Now that the Super Bowl is in the books, the next event for Raymond James Stadium in Tampa is Wrestlemania. With 25,000 out of a possible 65,000 fans were in attendance, this enabled a happy medium of sorts to take place. A sporting event can have a crowd, while maintaining a degree of social distancing due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. However, images like the one below started to surface on social media:
Both before and after the game, large crowds gathered in the streets of Tampa. There was no regard for social distancing and barely a mask to be seen on people. Here is where the problem lies. In the stadium, staff can implement all the measures they want to. But once fans are outside the stadium, there is little that can be done to enforce rules. What is more scary is that Florida has some of the most relaxed COVID laws in all of the United States. There are no laws regarding wearing masks, and if desired, can hold stadium events at full capacity. WWE is at risk of causing another mass outbreak in Florida. Not only putting fans and their families at risk, but with tapings currently taking place in Florida, superstars too.
Almost everyone can agree that fans make the atmosphere better for sport events, but at what cost? One positive about wrestling is that their controversial actions rarely break main stream news. Little was made about the mass releases in April 2020 and Saudi Arabia shows have been met with little media backlash despite issues in the country. Going ahead with fans at Wrestlemania could cause a bigger backlash than usual though. Is it really worth it?
With the events pre and post-Super Bowl, WWE may need to reassess what to do about attendance this year. At the time of writing, no Wrestlemania tickets have gone on sale yet, meaning that there is still time to revert to a ThunderDome style setup for this years event. The unfortunate thing about this is the popularity of WWE itself. Like devoted NFL fans, there is little WWE can do to make hardcore fans (who would go to a packed stadium in a pandemic), turn off the product. And as we have seen in the past, WWE have more than questionable ethics…
Image taken from Daily Mail article found here