WWE’s ThunderDome is moving locations.
WWE confirmed to Sports Illustrated that beginning on the Dec. 11 edition of SmackDown, the new home for the ThunderDome will be Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla.
Monday Night Raw and SmackDown will now air from the home of the Tampa Bay Rays, offering an entirely new landscape for its shows at the domed baseball stadium. No end date has been announced to the residency, but sources close to WWE have indicated that it could extend into March before baseball season begins in April. As of now, this is also expected to be the home of January’s Royal Rumble pay-per-view.
WWE had taken up residency at the Amway Center in Orlando since August but needed a new home because of scheduling conflicts. The Amway Center is home to the NBA’s Orlando Magic, which is planning a December return, as well as the Orlando Solar Bears minor league ice hockey team, which has a home game scheduled for Dec. 29.
The ThunderDome setup made its debut in August, just before SummerSlam. After months of running shows out of the spartan WWE Performance Center, the ThunderDome allowed the company to inject its shows with the elements of eye-popping pageantry the product has become known for. There’s no replacing the roar of the crowd but the ThunderDome features video boards surrounding the ring that feature live images of fans watching from their homes and piped-in crowd noise. WWE has also made use of pyrotechnics much more than it had in recent years and introduced new lighting methods.
The final ThunderDome show at the Amway Center is scheduled to be the Dec. 7 edition of Raw.