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WWE officially announces ThunderDome move

WWE via Business Wire

It was well-known WWE was going to have to move the ThunderDome to a new home with the start of the Major League Baseball season. We’ve had reliable reports on where they’d set-up to film Raw, SmackDown, and PPV events after the Tampa Rays returned to Tropicana Field, and how they’d account for the shows that need to air while they transition.

But for some reason, we hadn’t heard any of it officially.

Until this morning (Mar. 24), when the company confirmed most of it via press release this morning:

WWE ThunderDome Takes Over Yuengling Center

WWE® (NYSE: WWE) will bring its world-class viewing experience, WWE ThunderDome, to Yuengling Center as it remains in Tampa with a new residency starting with Monday Night Raw® on April 12 at 8 pm ET on USA Network.

The move to Yuengling Center continues WWE’s longstanding relationship with the state of Florida and marks the next phase of WWE ThunderDome, which launched to critical acclaim last August at Amway Center in Orlando and has continued over the past four months at Tropicana Field in Tampa. Yuengling Center sits on the campus of one of Florida’s largest universities, the University of South Florida.

Featuring a state-of-the-art set, video boards, pyrotechnics, lasers, cutting-edge graphics and drone cameras, WWE ThunderDome provides an immersive viewing atmosphere and virtually brings thousands of fans into the arena via live video, in conjunction with The Famous Group and its proprietary technology, for every Monday Night Raw, Friday Night SmackDown® and WWE pay-per-view event. WWE ThunderDome received top honors at last year’s Sportel Awards for Best Virtual Fan Experience.

“WWE has always been a highlight of our event mix and bringing this world-class residency to Yuengling Center only strengthens our relationship,” said Kevin Preast, Executive Vice President of Event Management at Vinik Sports Group. “Hosting WWE ThunderDome is another step towards a full return of hosting more events in the area.”

“WWE takes great pride in providing our fans and network partners with cutting-edge production and one of the most interactive atmospheres in all of television every single week,” said Kevin Dunn, WWE Executive Producer & Chief, Global Television Production. “We look forward to the next iteration of the WWE ThunderDome at Yuengling Center as we continue to take the fan experience to a whole new level.”

To date, more than 650,000 fans from around the world have registered to be part of WWE ThunderDome. Fans can register for their virtual seat to be part of upcoming WWE shows via or at WWE’s Facebook, Instagram or Twitter pages.

Raw, SmackDown and pay-per-view programming will be produced at Yuengling Center on closed sets with only essential personnel in attendance. WWE will continue to administer its health and safety protocols for talent, crew and employees in conjunction with each production, including PCR testing for COVID-19, social distancing and wearing masks.

This doesn’t explicitly give their move out day from The Trop, or mention that the April 5 & 9 WrestleMania go home editions of Raw and SmackDown will be pre-taped.

But it includes the biggest items, which are that USF’s Yuengling Center is the ThunderDome’s third home, and that WWE won’t be returning to live, in-person crowds after WrestleMania 37.

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