Coronavirus Update 3/17: WrestleMania Heads to WWE Performance Center; UFC Fights, Kentucky Derby, International Soccer Tourneys Postponed

WrestleMania 36 was slated for Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, FL; Euro 2020, Copa América to be played next year

In light of the CDC’s recent recommendations for curbing the spread of the coronavirus, pro sports leagues continue to postpone or cancel seasons and events. Last week, SVG began posting a regularly updated list of announcements from pro leagues regarding postponed, canceled, or altered events. Below are further announcements, made on Tuesday, March 17. Stay tuned to for more information on how the spread of the coronavirus is impacting the sports-production industry.

WrestleMania 36 Shifts to WWE Performance Center
WWE’s biggest event of the year, WrestleMania, will now be held  in the company’s smallest venue. Originally scheduled for Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, FL, on April 5, the crown jewel of the wrestling calendar is being moved 1.5 hours northeast to the WWE Performance Center in Orlando. According to the WWE’s statement, fans will not be allowed inside the venue, and other events running alongside WrestleMania — NXT TakeOver, the WWE Hall of Fame ceremony, and Axxess fan expo — will not take place. The event will still be live-streamed on WWE Network.

Prior to this latest decision, the WWE was moving forward with remaining in Tampa but holding the event without any fans.

UFC Bows Out of Next Three Fights
The UFC is taking a different stance on moving forward with events during the coronavirus pandemic. After going forward with its fight in Brazil and moving U.S. fights to the APEX training facility in Las Vegas, UFC President Dana White is now postponing the UFC’s next three fights: scheduled matches in London’s O2 Arena on Saturday, March 21, and previously planned matches in Columbus, OH, at Nationwide Arena on Saturday, March 28, and at Moda Center in Portland, OR, on Saturday, April 11.

In addition, UFC offices in Las Vegas have been closed. Despite this announcement, White and the UFC are still bullish on hosting the main event next month at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center on Saturday, April 18.

146th Kentucky Derby Postponed Until Sept. 5
Horse racing’s Super Bowl, the Kentucky Derby, is yet another high-profile event to fall victim to the coronavirus. According to a statement made by Churchill Downs, the event will be moved from its original date on May 2 to a new one on Sept. 5.

Churchill Downs CEO Bill Carstanjen issued the following:
Throughout the rapid development of the COVID-19 pandemic, our first priority has been how to best protect the safety and health of our guests, team members, and community. As the situation evolved, we steadily made all necessary operational adjustments to provide the safest experience and environment. The most recent developments have led us to make some very difficult but, we believe, necessary decisions, and our hearts are with those who have been or continue to be affected by this pandemic.  

Our team is united in our commitment to holding the very best Kentucky Derby ever and certainly the most unique in any of our lifetimes. While we are always respectful of the time-honored traditions of the Kentucky Derby, our Company’s true legacy is one of resilience, the embracing of change, and unshakeable resolve.

NASCAR Extends Postponement Period to May
After initially halting only the next two races, the postponements will continue throughout the entire month of April. In addition to races at Atlanta Motor Speedway and Homestead-Miami, these races will include Texas on March 29, Bristol on April 5, Richmond on April 19, Talladega on April 26, and Dover on May 3.

Roland Garros Rescheduled for Fall
The French Tennis Federation has decided to postpone the French Open tennis tournament. Roland Garros will now be played Sept. 20-Oct. 4, instead of May 24-June 7.

“Though nobody is able to predict what the situation will be on 18th May,” says the French Tennis Federation in a statement, “the current confinement measures have made it impossible for us to continue with our preparations, and, as a result, we are unable to hold the tournament on the dates originally planned.”

Euro 2020, Copa América Move to 2021
Outside the continental U.S., large-scale events continue to change their agendas. Domestic soccer competitions have closed their doors for the foreseeable future, and massive undertakings are being put on hold as well. After much anticipation, Euro 2020, the multinational showcase that determines the best in Europe, and Copa América, South America’s biggest soccer tournament, will be delayed a year, to 2021.

Given numerous cancellations around the soccer world, UEFA (Europe’s governing body) made this decision in order to give more importance to the completion of seasons within domestic leagues, such as England’s Premier League, Spain’s LaLiga, Italy’s Serie A, France’s Ligue 1, and Germany’s Bundesliga. The women’s edition of the Euros, originally slated for 2021, will now be played in 2022.

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