WWE isn’t shy about sharing their strategy of getting local governments around the globe to bid on hosting their premium live events. And after WWE spent time in Florida’s Tampa Bay/St. Peterburg/Clearwater area last week as tickets went on sale for Royal Rumble 2024, the St. Pete Catalyst reported details of how local officials brought one of WWE’s “Big 4” PLEs to Tropicana Field.
Jason Latimer, public relations director for Visit St. Pete-Clearwater (VSPC) told the Catalyst the organization spent $500,000 to land next January’s Rumble. The money came from the Pinellas County Tourist Development Tax, which is levied on overnight hotel stays and, according to VSPC’s LinkedIn page, “used to strengthen the local economy and increase employment through the ongoing promotion and development of tourism, Pinellas County’s major industry.”
The half-million dollar bid is said to be less than what Orlando officials bid in an effort to bring Royal Rumble to that area’s Camping World Stadium. Their offer to host the Rumble at the site of WrestleMania 33) was said to be $850,000. Orange County, Florida leaders projected the PLE would have a $28 million impact on the local economy had they won the bid.
It’s not clear why WWE chose Tropicana Field despite what seems to be a smaller bid, and Pinellas County didn’t release their own economic impact projections. But VSPC CEO Brian Lowack did list several benefits for the Catalyst — including their belief the event will be help refill the Tourist Development Tax fund used for the bid:
“The exposure and marketing benefits, and the visitation we’re going to get from this, are astronomical. 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.”
County Commissioner Chris Latvala thinks the Rumble will be “history-making” for the area, breaking venue attendance records and even helping with efforts to build a new stadium for Major League Baseball’s Tampa Bay Rays. Lowack mentioned a new home for the Rays and “beach renourishments” as potential uses of the money Jan. 27, 2024’s Royal Rumble is expected to bring to Tampa Bay/St. Peterburg/Clearwater.
We’ll see if that comes to fruition. Whatever money does come in from next year’s Rumble will be touted by WWE. That’s how they keep offers from local governments coming in, after all.