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Vince McMahon in stand-off with Tampa officials over Wrestlemania

Vince McMahon is currently engaged in a Wrestlemania battle the likes of which even he has never ...

Vince McMahon in stand-off wit...
Other Sports

Vince McMahon in stand-off with Tampa officials over Wrestlemania

Vince McMahon is currently engaged in a Wrestlemania battle the likes of which even he has never known. 

The WWE chairman is engaged in a standoff with officials from the city of Tampa regarding the staging this year's sports-entertainment showpiece.

Wrestlemania 36 is due to take place at Tampa's Raymond James Stadium on Sunday April 5 with close to 70,000 fans from around the world in attendance.

Last year's Wrestlemania at the MetLife Arena in New Jersey attracted fans from all 50 US States and 68 different countries.

However, the coronavirus outbreak has ravaged almost the entire sporting calendar in the United States.

The NBA, Major League Baseball, the National Hockey League, Major League Soccer and even McMahon's own XFL have all placed their seasons on hiatus.

Even the WWE's own show SmackDown which airs on Fox will be held with no fans present on Friday night at their Performance Centre base in Florida.

So with the COVID-19 virus shutting sporting events down, and the likes of Live Nation cancelling concert tours until early April at the earliest, surely Wrestlemania would be the next domino to fall?

Well, no, it seems.

Tampa City officials met this week to discuss the crisis and its impact on the city, but did not cancel Wrestlemania.

Hillsborough County Commissioner Les Miller told that meeting that they're giving McMahon and the WWE a week to make up their minds about Wrestlemania.

"Right now WrestleMania is out about three weeks. We came to the conclusion that at this point, we don't want to pull that plug", Miller said.

"However we wanted to give it at least a week to see what was going to happen, if WWE was going to do anything at all.

"If they don't, at that point, I will suggest that we do come together for an emergency meeting to discuss what we do at that particular point in time."

But McMahon appears determined to forge ahead as planned.

Weeks' worth of television have been pointed towards 'Mania weekend, with Ireland's own Becky Lynch involved in a featured feud with Shayna Baszler.

How they'd be re-written, and special attractions like Bill Goldberg be re-integrated would be major headaches for McMahon.

Not forgetting WWE is a publicly traded company, and the coronavirus is clearly having an impact on its share price which stood at US$42.16 earlier this month, but at time of writing has fallen to US$32.40 per share.

In a statement released to investors on Thursday night underlined their determination to stage Wrestlemania as planned, however they are making adjustments to their 2020 financial figures:

The health and safety of WWE’s fans, performers and employees are the Company’s top priorities and management is monitoring the situation closely domestically and internationally.

The potential impact of COVID-19, and corresponding changes in the way WWE operates, may adversely impact the Company’s business including, but not limited to, its live event ticket sales and the sale of merchandise at those events.

It should be noted that the Company may be directed to cancel, postpone or relocate certain upcoming events and the number of these changes is unknown at this time.

The Company is currently unable to quantify the potential financial impact of COVID-19, but the financial impact to the Company may be material.

Accordingly, the Company is withdrawing its previously announced first quarter and full year 2020 guidance due to the increased uncertainty of the financial impact of COVID-19 to the Company.

The decision to continue as planned has caused murmurs amongst the WWE's roster.

Sports Illustrated reached out to 20 WWE superstars, with 12 responding and each of those who did expressed concern about performing in front of such a large crowd given the COVID-19 outbreak.

Here in Ireland, the top promotion OTT is set to face a tough financial time after they were forced to cancel their annual Scrappermania show at the National Stadium due the government's squeeze on public events.

Likewise, several professional wrestling groups could be hit hard by any cancellation of Wrestlemania.

Since 'Mania moved to big stadium settings in 2007, they've fed a phalanx of indie promotions who stage shows around the host city each year over the course of the weekend.

Indie wrestler Chris Dickinson told Vice, "I had a lot riding on some of these matches and a lot of eyes on me.

"This is a time where I could really break through to the next level, and it’s all either going to be postponed or some of these opportunities may never present themselves again."

But let's not forget who is at the centre of this story.

Vince McMahon continued the 1999 Over The Edge pay-per view after Owen Hart had fallen to his death in the ring at the Kemper Arena in Kansas City.

Vince McMahon aired the WWEs' Raw and SmackDown shows after Chris Benoit had murdered his family and taken his own life. (Benoit has since been effectively scrubbed from WWE history)

Vince McMahon pressed ahead with SmackDown on September 13 2001, two days after 9/11 and had his daughter Stephanie equate the terrorist attacks with his indictment by the US Federal Government on steroid charges in the mid-90s.

Vince McMahon has often told employees "there's no such thing as sick".

But next week could prove to be McMahon's biggest ever defeat.

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Becky Lynch Tampa Tampa Bay Vince McMahon WWE Wrestlemania Wrestlemania 36