The WWE ThunderDome, the virtual crowd system created last August in the midst of the pandemic, will move from the Tampa Bay Rays’ Tropicana Field to the University of South Florida’s Yuengling Center (formerly known as The Sun Dome), beginning with the April 12 Monday Night Raw at 8 p.m. ET.
“WWE has always been a highlight of our event mix and bringing this world-class residency to Yuengling Center only strengthens our relationship,” Kevin Preast, executive vice president of event management at Vinik Sports Group, said in a release. “Hosting WWE ThunderDome is another step towards a full return of hosting more events in the area.”
The ThunderDome, which started out in the Amway Center in Orlando and moved to Tropicana Field in December, was again forced to relocate because of the Rays’ upcoming season. Using video boards, pyrotechnics, lasers and drone cameras, the system aims to bring fans at home an authentic live arena experience. So far, more than 650,000 people from around the world have registered to be part of the WWE ThunderDome.
With Wrestlemania set for April 10 and 11 at the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ Raymond James Stadium, the WWE will only have to travel 11.6 miles the next day for Monday Night Raw.
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.
“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.”