World Wrestling Entertainment, the world's biggest promoter of wrestling events, will announce Thursday that it will build a training center in east Orange County with about 100 jobs, expanding an Orlando-area presence that began with TV production at Full Sail University.
The office of Gov. Rick Scott confirmed the news late Wednesday.
"WWE could have chosen anywhere in the world to house this new global performance center – and they chose the Sunshine State,'' Scott said in a statement. "[The] announcement that WWE will create nearly 100 more jobs for families in Central Florida is further proof that everything we do is geared towards job creation.''
WWE would not provide details, saying only that it would make a "major announcement" about a new development. But a source familiar with the plans said the company will open a training facility for wrestlers who appear in its live and televised events.
The source, who is not connected to WWE, confirmed that center could mean as many as 100 jobs, including wrestlers in training and sports-medicine and TV-production personnel. The source said the development has been dubbed "Project Flair," an apparent reference to retired WWE wrestler Ric Flair.
Scott is expected to attend Thursday's announcement.
The WWE now operates a training center in Tampa for wrestlers, who are known as Superstars and Divas.
The Connecticut-based company has scheduled a news conference for 11:30 a.m. Thursday at the Forsyth Central Commerce Park between East Colonial Drive and State Road 408.
Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs is also expected to attend, along with Full Sail President Garry Jones and WWE Executive Vice President Paul Levesque, better known as "Triple H."
The announcement comes less than a year after WWE began taping events at Full Sail, the 16,000-student for-profit college that specializes in degrees related to media, entertainment and the digital arts. In May 2012, WWE launched a partnership with Full Sail to shoot its popular "NXT" show at the Winter Park campus.
WWE has shot 45 episodes of "NXT," a series that highlights future Superstars and Divas, at Full Sail Live, a venue on campus usually reserved for concerts and receptions. Full Sail, located about 3 miles from the site of Thursday's announcement, is the only university that has a taping partnership with WWE.
WWE is "really the blending of sports and entertainment," said Jim Kahler, executive director of the Center for Sports Administration at Ohio University. He called the organization a "well-oiled machine."
For more than 60 years, WWE (formerly known as the World Wrestling Federation, or WWF) has been staging and promoting wrestling events around the world.
The company, headed by Vince McMahon, is perhaps best known for its high-flying matches, soap-opera-like story lines and bulked-up superstars including Hulk Hogan, "Macho Man" Randy Savage, The Rock and John Cena.
WWE presents shows at arenas around the world, and its brand also appears on books, action figures, DVDs, clothing and video games.
WWE programming is broadcast in more than 145 countries and reaches more than 600 million homes worldwide, according to the company's website. Headquartered in Stamford, Conn., WWE also has offices in New York, Los Angeles, Miami, London, Mumbai, Shanghai, Singapore, Istanbul and Tokyo.
In 2008, one of WWE's biggest events, WrestleMania, came to the Florida Citrus Bowl in Orlando. More than 74,000 fans attended WrestleMania 24, the first WrestleMania held in Florida, to see Edge take on the Undertaker in the main event. The Amway Center also hosted WWE Raw in 2010 and WWE Smackdown in 2012.
Kahler said WWE's cable ratings and sales show that its wrestling events are more popular than ever. Revenue totaled more than $480 million in 2012.
"It's a big business," said Kahler. "Vince McMahon is a marketing genius."