TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – The World Wrestling Entertainment Champion Drew McIntyre is ready to finally show off his WWE Championship in front of fans on the grandest stage of them all, right here, where he lives, in the Tampa Bay area.

WWE and Tampa officials announced on Saturday that WrestleMania will take place from Raymond James Stadium over two nights on April 10 and April 11, after the coronavirus pandemic forced the event to be canceled last year.

The event was moved to the company’s training facility in Orlando last year and took place without fans, though the event was broadcast on the WWE Network.

WrestleMania is an event that current WWE champion Drew McIntyre, real name Drew Galloway, a current Tampa Bay resident, holds close to his heart.

“Last year, was big for for me, the biggest moment of my career, main eventing WrestleMania, winning my first WWE title from [former UFC champion] Brock Lesnar. Unfortunately, [we couldn’t be] at Raymond James Stadium in front of 90,000 people, family, friends, there, but the good thing is, we gave the world an escape at the height of a pandemic,” McIntyre told 8 On Your Side’s Daisy Ruth.

“But I’m also very grateful we’re getting a take two this year… So I’m really excited to hear more about that as the weeks go on on, and actually be able to walk out with my WWE title and be able to hold it up in front of fans.”

The company is excited to get back to the Tampa Bay area, a place historically known for being the home of various wrestlers and former training facilities and wrestling schools.

“There is so much to celebrate in this news on so many different levels. And we look forward to working with our partners in Tampa Bay to finish what we started. That’s job number one,” said John Saboor, Executive Vice President of Events at WWE.

“And number two, to create the spectacle and grandeur that of WrestleMania over two nights at Raymond James Stadium and again, work with people who have been so [great] to our success within Tampa Bay to create new signature moments, important economic impact for your region and most certainly, memories that will last a lifetime. No two WrestleManias are alike and have ever been alike,” Saboor added.

Rob Higgins, the Executive Director of the Tampa Sports Commission, told 8 On Your Side WrestleMania has been an event that has been at “the top of the list of events they have always coveted, but have never had the opportunity to host.”

“We’d been on it for more than 10 years and we got so close to it, actually hosting WrestleMania 36 last year. But naturally, the right decision was made in terms of modify and relocating it to the training center in Orlando. We never let the communication with John slow down one bit, with our good friends at WWE,” said Higgins.

“The timing couldn’t be any better, especially when you consider what our community has been through this last year and we just could not be more excited to finally have this become a reality,” Higgins continued.

Capacity and ticket information is currently not available for WrestleMania, but will be announced in the coming weeks.

“We’re most certainly excited for Tampa Bay and the NFL and can’t wait to watch you all bring that Super Bowl celebration to life,” said Saboor. “And I think rising tides lift all boats. And I think we’d be crazy not to think that what we expect to see in a very successful Super Bowl execution won’t lead to more opportunities to add more and more in the way of capacity. But having as our top priority, safety, that has to be job number one.”

For the WWE champion, McIntyre is most looking forward to seeing fans back in the stands for WWE shows and pay-per-view specials.

“It’s the one thing we’ve been missing all year. It’s our number one Superstar, our secret sauce, what makes WWE special is how passionate and loud, and knowledgeable our fanbase are. They can change the pace of a match. They can make an average match good, a good match great, or if an interview is going on in the ring that they don’t like, they’ll crap all over it,” McIntyre said.

“And if you don’t know what you’re doing it, if you’re not getting your job and you can’t roll with the punches, then you probably don’t deserve to be in front of those fans. That’s what makes them so special, they love the product so much. And we miss them. We miss the live interaction. We see everything on social media. We hear the reactions live in the ThunderDome. But to have the fans there in person, that’s what I’m looking forward to the most.”

The first WWE Network/pay-per-view special, the Royal Rumble, will take place from Tropicana Field on Jan. 31 beginning at 7 p.m.

WWE also announced Saturday that WrestleMania 38 and 39 will take place in Dallas, Texas, at AT&T Stadium and Los Angeles, California, at SoFi Stadium and Hollywood Park, respectively.

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