Since declaring national sports and media essential businesses, Florida has become the only place in America broadcasting live pro wrestling. WWE was broadcasting live from the Performance Center in Orlando until this weekend when they started taping multiple times a week instead, and All Elite Wrestling will start producing live shows in Florida next week. In his most recent press conference about the coronavirus pandemic, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis mentioned WWE and talked about when he thinks sports in the state could have live audiences again.
The focus of this press conference was DeSantis laying out the plan to reopen the state’s economy, starting with restaurants and retail stores opening at twenty-five percent capacity this Monday. The governor criticized the lockdown measures undertaken by other states throughout the press conference and emphasized the negative economic and social impacts of the lockdown. Florida is still logging hundreds of new COVID-19 cases per day, though the average number of new cases per day has decreased since the state put a stay-at-home order in place at the beginning of April.
After going over the initial stages of the plan to lift coronavirus prevention restrictions in Florida, DeSantis brought up leisure activities like restaurant dining and sports. As with his initial explanation to ESPN about WWE being classified as an “essential business” and his later statements about the decision, DeSantis spoke highly of sports companies investing in Florida and about people having new sources of entertainment. About WWE specifically, he said:
I wanted the wrestling to be filmed in Orlando. I’d like them to do WrestleMania. They were going to do WrestleMania in April. That’s hundreds of millions of dollars. I want to keep that good relationship. I want them to invest in Florida.
DeSantis mentioned the upcoming UFC event in Jacksonville and charity golf event, then moved on to speculation about when sports could have live spectators again. “There’s going to be a lot of good stuff going on, ” the governor said, “but I don’t think we’re probably ready to have any fans. But I do think if the trends are good… as you get into June, July, I think there is a window.” DeSantis added that “you’re not going to have everyone packed in,” but hypothesized about people sitting ten feet apart at baseball games.
While the future of sports and just about everything else in America is uncertain, it’s at least a possibility that there could be WWE and AEW shows this summer soundtracked by live crowds, just a seventy-five percent quieter ones than usual.