WWE Fans Returning to the Stands for ‘WrestleMania 37’

After 13 months performing in empty arenas, WWE will welcome fans back to the stands for WrestleMania 37.
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WrestleMania is returning to Tampa.

WWE confirmed last week that WrestleMania 37 will take place over two nights this April at Raymond James Stadium. This was the original plan for last year, until the pandemic threw everything off. WrestleMania 36 was instead held at the WWE Performance Center in Orlando without fans, but as of now, that will not be the case in 2021.

WWE chief brand officer Stephanie McMahon teamed up with husband Paul “Triple H” Levesque, the company’s executive vice president of global talent strategy and development, to anchor a tongue-in-cheek video that announced the date and locations of the next three editions of WrestleMania.

“Like I said in the announcement, it’s an honor to host again in Tampa for the first time,” McMahon says. “We are excited to work with Governor [Ron] DeSantis, Mayor [Jane] Castor, and all of the health officials to make the event as safe as possible.”

WrestleMania 37 is now officially scheduled for April 10 and 11. The dates and venues for the next two years were also announced, as WrestleMania returns to AT&T Stadium in Texas on April 3, 2022, and then goes Hollywood on April 2, 2023, at California’s SoFi Stadium.

“We have the opportunity to work with our partners over the next three years,” McMahon says. “We were originally scheduled to be in SoFi Stadium in 2021, but once the pandemic hit, we spoke with all of our host cities to determine our best path and best strategies. That’s why we announced all three dates and locations.

“Especially right now, it’s so important to have something to look forward to. We want to provide some hope and excitement, and given the circumstances, allow people time to plan.”

On Monday morning, McMahon also announced that WWE Network will be moving to Peacock on March 18, just a few weeks before WrestleMania 37. The timing should drive extra subscribers to Peacock, particularly since this year’s WrestleMania will take place over two days.

“This isn’t going to be the traditional weeklong celebration, so we want to maximize the value for our audience,” McMahon says. “Doing WrestleMania for two nights maximizes that experience.”

There have been no formal announcements from WWE on ticket sales or the capacity of the event, which Levesque says will be shared as soon as possible.

“For us, it’s all about the safety protocol,” Levesque says. “That’s why we haven’t been able to make ticket announcements or even share the capacity yet. The world is not the same as it was one year ago, and we’re trying to bring an event that is safe but also very special.”

This year’s WrestleMania will also mark the first time since the March 9, 2020, edition of Raw in Washington, D.C., that fans will be in the stands for a WWE event.

“Our heartbeat is in the stands,” Levesque says. “We are so different from other sports. In some sports, you’re trying to tune out that noise, like turning off that exterior stimulus when you’re shooting free throws. For us, it’s all about their excitement. We’re the only sport where we’re engaging them to make more noise. It’s all about their participation.

“It’s hard for me to think of last year’s show in the Performance Center as WrestleMania. Some spectacular moments happened, but that wasn’t the spectacle we were used to. Before last year, could you imagine doing a WrestleMania without fans? We do what we do because of our fan base. I’ll revel in the opportunity just to have some fans there. This year, we’ll make something as special as we can, as safely as possible.”

Adding fans to WrestleMania brings an undeniable electricity to the event, but it also brings forth an entirely new set of issues that require an immense amount of planning. The most pressing of priorities for WWE is to ensure fan safety at the events as COVID-19 cases remain high.

“This is an opportunity for us to safely bring people together,” McMahon says. “If we do this right, it will be a celebration in the best way possible.”

One advantage for WWE is that WrestleMania is set to take place at the same stadium as this year’s Super Bowl. Though the venue’s usual capacity is between 65,000 and 75,000, Super Bowl LV is currently scheduled to have approximately 22,000 people in the stands.

“We’re very fortunate to follow this year’s Super Bowl,” McMahon says. “We will be studying very closely what went well and what can be improved. The health and safety of everyone involved—our fans, our performers, our employees, our staff, the building staff—is the top priority for us, while also ensuring the most entertaining event possible for two nights.”

The WrestleMania video announcement also featured appearances from WWE’s signature stars, including Roman Reigns, Sasha Banks and John Cena. It was especially fitting that Banks shared the news that WrestleMania is returning next year to AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, given that is the site of her triple-threat match against Charlotte and Becky Lynch at WrestleMania 32—one of her defining moments in WWE.

“Sasha is a star, and she was a perfect choice to make that announcement,” McMahon says. “That launched the rebranding of the women’s division on the biggest stage possible. Sasha, Becky and Charlotte tore it down in Dallas, and I can’t wait to see what they do at WrestleMania in 2022.”

WWE icon and Hollywood actor Cena was also a natural choice to make the announcement about WrestleMania’s return to L.A. in 2023. He is also highly rumored to return for a match at this year’s event in Tampa.

“I won’t put words in John’s mouth, but I can speak to his passion, and it’s WWE and WrestleMania,” Levesque says. “Once you do this at a high level, and John does it at the highest, it’s very hard to put down. If there is a way for him to be there, he will be there.”

Levesque also oversees NXT as its executive producer and sees a few members of the brand’s current roster, particularly from the women’s division, as possible future WrestleMania headliners.

“Our roster right now includes Io Shirai, Rhea Ripley, Shotzi Blackheart, Dakota Kai, Candice LeRae and Raquel González,” Levesque says. “The division is deep, and it represents the way we want to build our future. Not the future in five days—the future in five years. That’s what we’re doing in NXT. I hope we’ll see them tearing it up in the main event of WrestleMania 40, and it won’t surprise me at all if that happens.”

WWE has a unique opportunity to hold WrestleMania in front of a crowd this year. The company is faced with a responsibility to keep attendees safe, but McMahon is grateful for the opportunity to bring the event back to the people.

“The health and safety of everyone involved, that is our No. 1 priority,” McMahon says. “From there, it’s all about the sheer entertainment, creating moments and memories that will hopefully last a lifetime.”

Justin Barrasso can be reached at JBarrasso@gmail.com. Follow him on Twitter @JustinBarrasso.