WWE Executive Paul "HHH" Levesque took part in an announcement with Florida Governor Rick Scott and Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs concerning the development of a 26,000 square foot training and development center near Orlando, according to The Orlando Sentinel.
Since 2008, WWE has housed its talent development organization and promotion in the state, first as Florida Championship Wrestling and recently re-branded as NXT. Since May of 2012, a partnership with Full Sail University of Winter Park (a suburb of Orlando) has seen the weekly flagship show of the promotion, called WWE NXT, produced at Full Sail Live, an arena-studio designed for professional television production.
This move will certainly keep the program in the state and the area for the foreseeable future, ending any speculation that development could be moved closer to WWE's corporate home in Stamford, CT.
"Orlando will be the home to the future of WWE," Levesque said.
The partnership with Full Sail, a for-profit university focused on multimedia entertainment production, will also remain intact. The new facility, located on the site of an existing warehouse for which WWE already has a long-term lease, will have seven wrestling rings and a sound stage where both wrestlers and Full Sail University students can learn about TV production.
In addition to an estimated 80 to 100 wrestlers who will be employed by the company in east Orange County, it is also expected to create 16 new full-time jobs in sports medicine, administration, coaching and TV production, according to John Saboor, a senior vice president of WWE.
The new center, which replaces a similar one in Tampa, will also have strength-and-conditioning and physical-therapy areas, says Levesque. These functions, in addition to the production elements, "allows us with the facility to not only train the athletes of the future ... it allows us to train the next generation of what we do with WWE."
The company plans to spend about $3.5 million converting the site, with a goal of opening as early as this summer. Despite the presence of clearly excited government officials, WWE is not receiving any incentive funding from the state, per Sean Helton, a spokesman for Enterprise Florida.
No word on if this could signal forward progress on the long rumored "brick and mortar" home for the WWE Hall of Fame. Orlando had been mentioned as a potential site due to its also being home to family vacation destinations like Disney World and Universal Studios Florida - although doubters point to its distance from WWE's corporate home and traditional territory of the Northeast.
There was also no specific discussion on how increased investment in development might play out going forward for the WWE product. Would a beefed up developmental program push the NXT internet program more into the company's overall marketing plans?
Might the ability to train more talent lead to further broadening of their production slate? Possibly to fill time on the WWE Network?
Stick with us here at Cageside Seats for any news and our usual excellent discussion. That discussion starts with you, so get to typing about it in the comments below.