Coronavirus update: WWE prepares contingency plans for WrestleMania 36, moves SmackDown on Friday

WWE announced Thursday that is preparing contingency plans for WrestleMania 36 — set for Sunday, April 5 in Tampa, Florida — but remains committed to hosting the event at Raymond James Stadium amid concerns regarding the coronavirus epidemic.

“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 cancelled by government officials, civil authorities and/or local venues,” the company said in a statement. “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 Tampa area has witnessed confirmed cases of coronavirus among individuals, and both state and city officials have taken measures to limit large gatherings. However, as of now, WrestleMania is still on. The city of Tampa has put a decision on whether to postpone or cancel the event in the hands of WWE at this time.

While WWE may be in a holding pattern regarding its biggest event of the year, it’s signature television program is being moved. Friday Night SmackDown, originally scheduled to air from Little Caesar’s Arena in Detroit, will instead be moved to the WWE Performance Center in Orlando, Florida.

“Friday Night SmackDown on March 13 will air live as regularly scheduled and emanate from WWE’s training facility in Orlando, Florida with only essential personnel in attendance,” WWE said in a statement. “The event was originally scheduled in Detroit, Michigan.”

WWE also said in a statement that it is making similar contingency plans for its upcoming live shows based on decisions made by governments, civil authorities or venues. It currently airs Raw on Monday nights, NXT on Wednesday nights and SmackDown on Friday nights.

With the cancellation of South By Southwest in Austin, Texas, the suspension of professional sports seasons (NBA, NHL, MLS), a delay to the start of MLB’s season and the cancelation of every college basketball conference tournament, it seemed only a matter of time before the impact to be felt by the world’s biggest wrestling promotion.

It is unknown what WWE’s plan is for Monday’s edition of Raw, which is set to emanate from Pittsburgh. “Stone Cold” Steve Austin is supposed to be in attendance at the show, commemorating 3:16 day on Monday, March 16.

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