WWE ThunderDome moving to Tropicana Field

Originally published at WWE ThunderDome moving to Tropicana Field

Prior to the 2020 SummerSlam pay-per-view, WWE unveiled their ‘ThunderDome’ setup at the Amway Center in Orlando, Florida. The arena holds a plethora of LED screens which allows fans to be a part of WWE’s RAW, SmackDown and pay-per-view events virtually. It has officially been announced by the sports-entertainment company that Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Florida will be the new home of the ThunderDome beginning on December 11th for Friday Night SmackDown on FOX.

Tropicana Field is home to the Tampa Bay Rays. RAW, SmackDown and pay-per-view events will emanate from the stadium with only essential personnel in attendance. Below is the official press release concerning the news:

WWE will bring its world-class viewing experience, WWE ThunderDome, to Tropicana Field in Tampa Bay as it begins a new residency starting with SmackDown on Friday, Dec. 11 at 8/7 C on FOX.

“The Tampa Bay Rays are excited to welcome WWE to Tropicana Field for this residency and shine a spotlight on the Tampa Bay area for WWE fans around the world,” said Matt Silverman, Tampa Bay Rays President. “The ballpark will be transformed to host the spectacle of WWE ThunderDome, allowing fans to enjoy this wildly popular experience virtually.”

The move to Tampa Bay marks the next iteration for WWE ThunderDome, which launched to critical acclaim in August as part of WWE’s first-ever residency at Amway Center in Orlando. 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 recently received top honors at this year’s Sportel Awards for Best Virtual Fan Experience.

“We are proud to have reimagined the in-arena atmosphere and provide an interactive experience like nothing else in sports and entertainment with the launch of WWE ThunderDome,” said Kevin Dunn, WWE Executive Producer & Chief, Global Television Production. “Our fans’ response and industry-wide recognition are both humbling and further validation of the innovative spirit and passion that exist across the entire WWE organization.”

Fans can register for their virtual seat to be part of upcoming WWE shows via www.WWEThunderDome.com or at WWE’s Facebook, Instagram or Twitter pages.

“Hollywood celebrities, WWE Legends and millions of fans from around the world have all enjoyed what the world-class WWE ThunderDome has to offer,” said Brian Flinn, WWE Chief Marketing & Communications Officer. “This new residency will enable us to continue offering an unmatched live spectacle and would not have been possible without the strong support from the Tampa Bay Rays organization. We remain grateful for the hospitality provided by the Amway Center over the past four months.”

Raw, SmackDown and pay-per-view programming will be produced at Tropicana Field 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

Spectrum Sports 360 reporter Jon Alba received an amended contract between the city of Orlando and WWE back in October. It read that WWE will run their ThunderDome events inside the Amway Center through November 24th.


Wow. Perversely, all of the things which make the Trop the worst stadium in the MLB in terms of atmosphere (oppressive roof, poor lighting, weird catwalks) might actually help the presentation of no-crowd wrestling.

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I usually love seeing WWE in baseball stadiums (Mania 19, the last couple Rumbles)… But I am doubtful they’ll really show off the space, as they’ve invested so much into the Thunderdome - which doesn’t show the natural setting at all.

I’m sure the sound and lighting techs at the Trop can provide some valuable insight to WWE regarding how to pipe in crowd noise and make an empty stadium appear more full.

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This is cool. I definitely think that the outdoor feel (yes I realize it’s indoors, but I think it will give the show that feel) in this climate comes off better on TV. This is one area I think AEW has done a very good job.

Will the drinks be free

Where will WWE go after Tropicana Field?

Currently, in Florida, NBA/NHL venues in Tampa and Orlando are allowing socially distanced seating.

The Toronto Raptors drew 3,800 fans to Amalie Arena i Tampa.

WWE could go to Feld Studios north of Sarasota. It’s a huge facility built to rehearse arena tours. Monster Truck, Disney on Ice and many concerts have rehearsed there. You can set up some seats and sell tickets.

It will be interesting to see where they go. Another Florida residency or short stays at bigger arenas with limited live audience, is my guess.