WWE

Downtown bound: WWE to move forward with new Stamford headquarters

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STAMFORD — WWE’s big move is still on — but the company is keeping quiet about when it plans to make it.

The Stamford-based company has confirmed in its new annual report that it intends to move forward with the relocation of its headquarters within Stamford — from 1241 E. Main St., two miles west to the downtown office complex at 677 Washington Blvd.

“We expect to move into the new location in phases upon completion of leasehold improvements,” WWE said in the report. It did not provide any dates for the move.

Among cost-cutting changes in response to the coronavirus pandemic, WWE announced last April that it would defer spending for at least six months on the buildout of the new headquarters at 677 Washington, where it has leased about 415,000 square feet for its offices and a production center. When they announced the project in March 2019, company officials said they anticipated the move would take place in early 2021.

In response to an inquiry from Hearst Connecticut Media about the timeline for relocating, a WWE spokesman said Tuesday that “we will get back to you once we have an updated timeline to share.”

WWE owns its building at 1241 E. Main St., and a nearby production center on Hamilton Avenue. In addition, it leases offices at 1266 E. Main St., as well as warehouse space on Ely Avenue in Norwalk.

“Upon completion of our move to the new global headquarters, we expect to sell our owned and operated corporate facility, exit our leased spaces and will evaluate options for our television production studio facilities based on strategic, operating and financial considerations,” the report said.

WWE has been acutely affected by the pandemic — particularly since the crisis forced it last March to suspend its fan-attended arena shows. It is filming its flagship weekly TV shows, “Raw” and “SmackDown,” behind closed doors at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. In the past 11 months, it previously taped the programs at Amway Center in Orlando, Fla., and at its training center, also in Orlando.

Resulting largely from the lack of ticketed events, the company reported last week that its fourth-quarter 2020 revenues had dropped 26 percent from the same period in 2019.

In its latest earnings report, the firm also cited the return of furloughed employees. It did not disclose how many employees were coming back to the company or how many had been furloughed last year.

“The company does not have any employees still on furlough,” the spokesman said. He declined to specify how many employees had been furloughed.

During the third quarter of last year, WWE ranked as Stamford’s 12th-largest employer, with about 700 employees, according to the city’s Office of Economic Development.

Among other recent developments, WWE announced last month that its streaming WWE Network would move later this year to NBCUniversal’s Peacock platform.

Starting March 18 on Peacock, the initiative will incorporate more than 17,000 hours of new, original and library WWE Network programming including all of WWE’s live pay-per-view events such as WrestleMania.

WWE Network has operated as a standalone service since 2014. In the fourth quarter of 2020, the network counted an average of about 1.6 million paid subscribers.

Also last month, WWE announced that it would hold its next WrestleMania, in Tampa, a change from its original plan of hosting its marquee annual gathering this year in Inglewood, Calif.

WrestleMania 37 will now take place on April 10 and April 11 at Raymond James Stadium, the home of the NFL’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The Bucs played on their home field Sunday in their 31-9 victory against the Kansas City Chiefs in Super Bowl LV.

The 65,000-seat venue was the originally planned location for the 2020 WrestleMania, but the first wave of the coronavirus pandemic forced WWE to move it to a close-doors setup at its training center in Orlando, Fla.

[email protected]; twitter: @paulschott

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