As is often seen on Twitter, the social media platform became a place of hysteria yesterday when it was revealed online that Tampa officials will meet sometime this week to determine if public events, including Wrestlemania, which is scheduled to take place at Raymond James Stadium in just a few weeks should be postponed or cancelled because of concerns about the corona virus in a major public gathering. First of all, the absolute worst case scenario is that the sports entertainment spectacular would be temporarily postponed, it’s not as though the event just wouldn’t happen this year. Despite the five-alarm five mentality that many fans are using to approach this scenario, it’s very doubtful that the event will be postponed, even if it should.
Listen, my degree is in Communications so I’m not going to necessarily attempt to offer any medical advice on how someone should personally handle their individual situations. I will leave that to the scientists, doctors, and other professionals from that field that are a lot smarter than me. Sill, I think a few general things can be determined, at least about how this could or should impact the WWE’s schedule.
With countries like Italy more or less shut down, and Japan already cancelling many public sporting events, including at least two weeks of a New Japan tour, it’s obvious that that virus is a matter of a legitimate concern. How much of a concern or enough of a concern in the United States to cancel major events seems to be unknown right now. Depending on what news channel you watch, it’s generally agreed upon that the virus has impacted other countries more than America so in theory, any cancellations would be considered more of a recommendation than a requirement. That being said, since fans from all 50 states and dozens of countries attend Wrestlemania, there is definitely a valid concern that perhaps fans from other regions in the world could exposure American attendees to the virus that wouldn’t have otherwise been in contact with it.
All that being said, as is the case with many public health scares, the totality of this scenario seems to be blown out of proportion, especially because the vast majority of people exposed to the virus aren’t in any fatal danger. It’s ironic that viruses like this seem to pop up on the news radar every few years, prompting shelves to be emptied of supplies that people think are necessary for survival. Then again, is there ever a reason not to be stocked up on toilet paper?
So, while the majority of fans that attend Wrestlemania will be fine, the true determining factor should be not the amount of people it could affect, but rather how serious it could be or the chance for it to spread to people it might affect in the most serious cases.
In a perfect world, the event would be postponed in an attempt to prevent any risks at all, but America is a capitalist society and that might be the actual determining factor for the Tampa officials. Some college tournaments have been cancelled, and some pro teams have postponed or limited attendance to games, but those are relatively small occurrences in the grand scheme of things. The bottom line is, the Wrestlemania brand brings along with it millions of dollars, both for the company and for the host city. Reportedly, there was an economic impact of $165 millions for the New Jersey area when it held the event last year. Quite simply, those Tampa politicians need those dollars to come into their state and it makes for a good item to brag about on their next election campaign.
Essentially, there’s too much money to be made off of Wrestlemania for the event to be cancelled and probably not postponed. The other aspect of this is that Vince McMahon’s entire sports entertainment empire was build around the success of Wrestlemania so it’s doubtful that he will sit on the sidelines without suggesting every possible solution before the city would shutdown the event.
If the show would be cancelled or postponed, I would be completely shocked, but if it happens it will undoubtedly cause a ripple effect in the industry. Obviously, dozens of independent groups have scheduled their events and conventions around Wrestlemania to capitalize on the amount of fans that travel to the area for the show, but without WWE’s event, it’s doubtful the independent groups could still draw the major crowds they have in the past few years. For the WWE, how it would address the scheduled matches and storylines for the show would be a rather unprecedented predicament. Would they book the matches to happen sooner or try to delay the card until a rescheduled WM event? Could they realistically maintain the interest in the card for a few months until WM was cleared to happen? Furthermore, if the cancellation of public events become more of a topic of conversation among government officials, would that affect WWE’s touring schedule?
In my opinion, Wrestlemania won’t be cancelled, simply because of the amount of money involved. It might be a harsh reality to the public, but the government isn’t really concerned with the public’s health, but rather the economic ramifications of anything related to a health crisis. The best example is actually from the same state that will host Wrestlemania. If Disney World, one of the main revenue streams for that global corporation isn’t closed than Wrestlemania isn’t going to be cancelled. The argument to shutdown public gatherings as merely a precaution is legitimate, but money talks in the United States.
It will be very interesting to see what happens in this situation and the aftermath of the decisions that will be made. It should be noted that theoretically, the officials in Tampa would make the determination if WM should be postponed, not Vince McMahon. Finally, I hope everyone around the world that has been affected by the virus gets better because situations like this are often a reminder to even the most diehard pro wrestling fans that they are more important things than sports entertainment.
What do you think? Comment below with your thoughts, opinions, feedback and anything else that was raised.
Until next week
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