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Royal Rumble’s economic impact tops $47 million

Mark Parker

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The Jan. 27 Royal Rumble brought 48,044 people from all 50 states and 40 countries to Tropicana Field. Photo: Visit St. Pete/Clearwater.

Recently released financial numbers for World Wrestling Entertainment’s (WWE) Royal Rumble confirmed what many local stakeholders expected – the event body-slammed an influx of cash into the area.

Visit St. Pete/Clearwater (VSPC) reported that the event, held Jan. 27 in St. Petersburg at Tropicana Field, provided a $47.05 million economic impact. Caleb Peterson, senior business development manager for the agency, called the Royal Rumble a “home run” for businesses and hotels.

Peterson led a Tourist Development Council presentation Wednesday on the event’s local impact. The Royal Rumble brought a record-breaking 48,044 people to the Trop, with tickets sold in all 50 states and 40 countries.

“I don’t know if some of you guys were down there, but downtown St. Pete was just electric,” Peterson said. “What we heard from a lot of different people is that weekend is typically pretty quiet on our side of the bay because of Gasparilla going on over in Tampa. It was a home run.”

VSPC and the community it serves received a substantial return on investment. The agency spent $500,000 in tourism development tax funding – accrued from overnight hotel stays – in its successful bid to secure one of WWE’s three signature annual events.

For comparison, the Greater Orlando Sports Commission allocated $850,000 in an unsuccessful attempt to host the Royal Rumble at Camping World Stadium. Peterson noted that the Tampa Bay Rays, the City of St. Petersburg, the Tampa Sports Commission and VSPC partnered on the local proposal.

Peterson said he spoke with WWE and Rays officials after the event. Both groups hope to bring the Royal Rumble back to St. Petersburg.

“That’s music to my ears,” Peterson added. “As we look to expand on the types of events that we do, especially on this stage, we want to make sure that it’s a success for everybody.”

The Royal Rumble generated $28.34 million in direct spending and added $2.92 million to local tax coffers. Ridership on the SunRunner, the region’s first bus-rapid-transit service, soared by 95% over a typical Saturday.

Surrounding establishments also saw a surge in patronage. Peterson said Ferg’s Sports Bar & Grill “did seven times the normal amount of business on that Saturday.”

Hundreds of wrestling fans, most in related attire, wait for the Jan. 27 Royal Rumble to begin at Ferg’s Sports Bar & Grill. Photo by Mark Parker.

Sales at Green Bench Brewing increased by 10-15%. Peterson said Imagine Museum’s attendance jumped 25% the day after the Royal Rumble.

Attendees accounted for 17,811 room nights. Peterson said weekend hotel revenues increased 26.1% year-over-year.

He then noted a “final piece” to the Royal Rumble’s local contributions – “the legacy that the WWE is going to leave behind.” Peterson said professional wrestlers visited four charities throughout the weekend and “interacted with youth in our communities.”

The WWE also donated $60,000 to nonprofits ARC Tampa Bay, Miracle by the Bay, the Boys & Girls Club of St. Petersburg and the Pinellas Education Foundation. “So, not only did they bring the impact during the event, but they’re going to leave a lasting impact on our youth.”

Councilmember Copley Gerdes said downtown was “on fire” from the Edge District to the St. Petersburg Pier. He called the Royal Rumble an “unbelievable showcase” and said his colleagues in City Hall were also eager to host another WWE event.

Building on the Royal Rumble’s success was a recurring theme. Rays president Brian Auld broached the subject in February.

“It demonstrated that we could bring lots and lots of people to Tropicana Field,” Auld previously told the Catalyst. “And that our staff is more than capable of pulling off an event of that size and scope.

“I think it really puts a flag in the ground we’re going to use to try and recruit more events to Tropicana Field and our future ballpark, as well.”

The event was not without hiccups. County commissioner Kathleen Peters noted Wednesday that a typical 20-minute trip to the stadium took her nearly three hours due to congestion.

However, she called the Royal Rumble “outstanding” and believes officials can discern ways to mitigate traffic impacts. “We analyze it, we learn from it and we always do better,” Peters added.

Local leaders should have plenty of opportunities to improve operations. Brian Lowack, CEO of VSPC, announced his intention to host similar large-scale events monthly.

“They put heads in beds, they create an economic impact and we get tremendous exposure for the destination,” Lowack said. “So, they are win-win-wins.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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3 Comments

3 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Mike

    April 19, 2024at10:04 am

    lol Mickey you obviously didn’t look at the ticket prices. How much do you think the tickets were?

    I saw the cheapest tickets were 200 and the most expensive were 1500.

    I don’t think 1000 a person is too far from reality. I would take the opposite side and say 47 million doesn’t sound like too much.

  2. Avatar

    Velva Lee Heraty

    April 19, 2024at8:49 am

    The spin begins to divert attention from the land-grab of the Gas Plant area. The city of arts and culture does need a regular herd overwhelming its streets and sewer system. Let’s think about infrastructure here.

  3. Avatar

    Mickey

    April 18, 2024at5:10 pm

    $1,000 impact per person?! I didn’t realize WWE fans were all so wealthy. These economic impact estimates are a crock.

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