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Gov’t exceeds expectations with sponsorship of WWE weekend event

Although the government of Puerto Rico is still confirming the return on investment of the WWE’s Smackdown and Backlash event that took place on Saturday at the José Miguel Agrelot Coliseum, Mariela Vallines, the executive director of the Puerto Rico Convention Center District Authority, which oversees the venue, said it “exceeded all expectations.”

The event, which featured Bad Bunny, the most-streamed music artist globally, marked the largest gate ever for any WWE event held in Puerto Rico and the largest gate in the history of Backlash.

“The WWE’s confirmation of the success of this event is a gain for Puerto Rico as a world-class entertainment destination,” Vallines said. “This positions us as an ideal place for the production and presentation of events of this magnitude.”

More than 34,800 fans descended in San Juan for back-to-back sell-out nights of SmackDown (16,896 attendees) and Backlash (17,944 attendees). It also marked the most social Backlash of all-time, led by over 40 million views of the San Juan Street Fight featuring Bad Bunny vs. Damien Priest.

The hashtag #WWEBacklash, accompanied by a custom Bad Bunny emoji, trended No. 1 across the entire evening of sports.

“We’re awaiting confirmation of the return on investment, which is a report on the impressions, media exposure and social media presence that Puerto Rico had as a sponsor and host of this show, but with the unquestionable success the WWE has had in Puerto Rico, we are already in positive territory,” Vallines said.

The government invested some $1.5 million to sponsor the event. It was anticipated that the exposure of the island as an entertainment destination would be significant, Vallines said.

WWE’s Backlash was the most watched and highest-grossing in the company’s history, the WWE confirmed in a press release.

“The success of Smackdown and Backlash this weekend has a multiplier effect due to the exposure Puerto Rico received, as it was confirmed that 40 million households tuned in to the WWE’s pay-per-view event,” Vallines said.

“This represented a 28% increase compared to the 2022 numbers. It has been demonstrated that sponsoring the WWE event at the Coliseum of Puerto Rico was a good decision,” Vallines added.

“These are the large-scale events that the Convention Center District Authority seeks to sponsor to promote Puerto Rico as a destination with the capacity and local talent to attract greater investment in tourism and promote economic growth in that sector,” Vallines said.

In addition, Backlash broke merchandise and sponsorship records. As the first-ever WWE event under the expanded partnership with Fanatics overseeing the onsite event retail experience, top-selling items included the WWE Backlash and LWO Puerto Rico t-shirts.

Sponsorship revenue surpassed any Backlash event in history, breaking last year’s record with a 98% year-on-year increase through partnerships with Netflix’s FUBAR, Mike’s Harder Lemonade and Xfinity, organizers said.

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This story was written by our staff based on a press release.

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