Marc RaimondiESPN Staff Writer
The status of WrestleMania 36 appears to be on the ropes after Hillsborough County commissioner Les Miller said he “probably” will have to cancel the event if WWE doesn’t make the decision itself because of the coronavirus pandemic.
The event, scheduled for April 5 at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida, is expected to attract a crowd of more than 70,000 people.
“I’m hoping that Vince McMahon and WrestleMania and WWE make the call themselves, but a week from now, if they’ve not done that and we’re still in the situation we’re in, we’ll probably have to pull the plug on that,” Miller said Thursday, according to Fox 13.
Miller’s remarks came on the same day Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said that cities and counties should cancel mass gatherings over the next 30 days to limit the spread of the coronavirus. If WrestleMania 36 is not canceled, organizers will be asked to take screening measures to prevent infected people from entering.
When asked Friday about Miller’s comment, a WWE spokesperson referred to a statement that was released Thursday.
In that statement, the WWE remained firm in its plans to go ahead with WrestleMania but said it has “contingency plans in place in the event that it is canceled.”
“While we remain committed to hosting WrestleMania at Raymond James Stadium on Sunday, April 5, we are putting contingency plans in place in the event that it is canceled by government officials, civil authorities and/or local venues,” the statement read. “The health and safety of our fans, performers and employees are our top priorities and we are monitoring the situation closely with our partners and government officials in Tampa Bay.”
The NBA, MLB, NHL, NCAA and MLS have all canceled games and tournaments this week. After calling off the city’s two big St. Patrick’s Day events, Tampa Mayor Jane Castor said “bringing groups of people is the last thing we can do,” according to Fox 13.
Hillsborough County Sheriff Chad Chronister also seemed to put the onus on WWE to cancel the event.
“I commend every sports franchise for erring on the side of caution,” Chronister said. “I hope the WWE follows suit. I don’t ever want to see people put profit over public safety.”
WWE moved its SmackDown television show Friday night from Detroit to the company’s training facility in Orlando, Florida. No fans were allowed to enter. The same will be done Monday for WWE Raw, which will move from Pittsburgh to Orlando. WWE NXT on Wednesday also will take place at the WWE Performance Center, moving from nearby Full Sail University.
All Elite Wrestling (AEW), the second-biggest pro wrestling promotion in the United States, has altered its next four Dynamite television shows. Wednesday’s program will move from Rochester, New York, to Daily’s Place in Jacksonville, Florida. Daily’s Place is owned by the city of Jacksonville and operated by the Khan family, which also owns AEW and the Jacksonville Jaguars. The March 25 Dynamite show, a larger show titled “Blood & Guts,” will move from Newark, New Jersey, to a yet-to-be-determined location. The Milwaukee show April 1 and St. Louis show April 8 also will be relocated, with no destination announced yet.