The St. Petersburg/Clearwater, Florida tourism board spent $500,000 to bring this January's WWE Royal Rumble to Tropicana Field, beating out Orlando's considerably higher bid.
Speaking to The Catalyst, board PR director Jason Latimer revealed the number, saying the money came from tourism development tax funding which was accrued from hotel stays throughout Pinellas County.
The board is expecting over 40,000 fans for the event. County Commissioner Chris Latvala said last week that the Royal Rumble could break the attendance record at the stadium which is currently 47,150 for a 1990 New Kids on the Block concert.
“This is history-making,” Latvala added. “Not just for Pinellas County, but for the Tampa Bay area.”
The board did not release any economic projections, but has lofty expectations for the short and long-term impact the event could bring, according to board CEO Brian Lowack.
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“The exposure and marketing benefits, and the visitation we’re going to get from this, are astronomical,” Lowack said. “We can take those monies that we collect from those visitors in their overnight stays and reinvest them in capital projects here, which will increase visitation.”
The dollar amount is less than the city of Orlando's $850,000 bid for the same event that would have been held at Camping World Stadium. They projected a potential $28 million economic impact on the city.
The revealed number is the latest in what WWE CEO Nick Khan has promised on previous quarterly shareholder calls: site fees from cities to host WWE pay-per-views/premium live events.
Recent examples include nearly $3 million from the Welsh government for September 2022's Clash at the Castle and $1.8 million in cash and subsidies from the Puerto Rico government for this past May's Backlash.