US wrestling organisation WWE has announced that Tropicana Field in Tampa Bay will be the new home of its acclaimed ThunderDome experience.

WWE ThunderDome will move to Major League Baseball (MLB) franchise Tampa Bay Rays’ stadium to begin a new residency starting with the SmackDown show on December 11. The WWE took up residency at Amway Center, home of the Orlando Magic NBA basketball team, back in August to stage a number of events under the ThunderDome banner.

However, with the new NBA season due to commence on December 22, the WWE required a new base of operations. Prior to the formation of ThunderDome, WWE had been staging events without fans at its Performance Center from March due to the COVID-19 outbreak.

The ThunderDome concept features state-of-the-art set, video boards, pyrotechnics, lasers, cutting-edge graphics and drone cameras, providing an immersive viewing atmosphere and virtually bringing thousands of fans into the arena via live video. Launched in conjunction with fan experience company The Famous Group and its proprietary technology, ThunderDome has operated for every Monday Night Raw, Friday Night SmackDown and WWE pay-per-view event.

No end date has been announced for the Tropicana Field residency, but the Sports Illustrated website said it could extend into March before the baseball season begins in April.

“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 and chief of global television production. “Our fans’ response and industrywide recognition are both humbling and further validation of the innovative spirit and passion that exist across the entire WWE organisation.”

Brian Flinn, WWE chief marketing officer and communications officer, added: “Hollywood celebrities, WWE legends and millions of fans from around the world have all enjoyed what the world-class WWE ThunderDome has to offer.

“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 organisation. We remain grateful for the hospitality provided by the Amway Center over the past four months.”

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. Raw, SmackDown and PPV programming will be produced at Tropicana Field on closed sets with only essential personnel in attendance.

Earlier this month, telecommunications infrastructure firm Mobilitie partnered with the Rays to bring 5G connectivity to Tropicana Field.

Image: WWE