Sport: New Economic Engine for Puerto Rico

Usually the word “sport” is associated with fun, competition, discipline, friends, family and having a good time, but rarely with the economy. However, that will no longer be the case, since the Chamber of Commerce of Puerto Rico (CCPR) has determined that will promote sports as one of the new pillars of the business institution.

In fact, the theme was included for the first time in the CCPR’s annual convention, which is held yesterday and today at the Coca Cola Music Hall in Miramar. The forum “Sports as an economic model” had the participation of businessmen linked to the sports business and former athletes. The panel, moderated by Adriana Sánchez, former Secretary of the Department of Recreation and Sports (DRD), discussed the challenges and opportunities that Puerto Rico has to attract investment, create jobs and contribute to improving health -physical, emotional and economic- through sport.

One of the challenges facing the sports industry is how to generate critical mass that he follows his players and sponsors the different games. “There are the leagues and the clubs, but we are 100 X 35 and three million inhabitants. The only way to do it is with investment bringing events from abroad”, said the businessman and authorized public accountant (CPA) Raúl Rodríguez.who is the CEO of Droguería Betances y Luis Garratón LLC, and baseball team president Caguas Creoles.

Anaymir “Tuti Munoz”, of MB Sports, and Pedro Zorrilla, CEO of GFR Media. (David Villafane/Staff)

Anaymir “Tuti” Muñoz Grajales, Vice President of Sales and Marketing for Muñoz Holdings Inc. and MB Sports, Inc., agreed with Rodríguez and indicated that she has been bringing special sporting events to Puerto Rico for 20 years. The first was with the Montreal Expos in 2003, who played 22 regular season games on the island.

“Puerto Rico loves special events. People are activated, there is a marketing impact. At the international level, jobs are impacted”said Muñoz Grajales, whose company has produced three world baseball classics in Puerto Rico, among many other events with an international focus in the country.

For Pedro Zorrilla, CEO of GFR Media, “The key for Puerto Rico to turn sports into an economic engine is called collaboration”. He pointed out that in the celebration of sporting events, not only producers and teams should be involved, but also governments -local and municipal-, universities, small businesses in the region, restaurants and even entities in favor of the environment, for example in the case of surfing.

investment uphill

For the moderator, Puerto Rico needs to create an ecosystem. Many times, everything can start, according to her, by identifying good players in different sports. That leads to forming a league, organizing games, etc., but what else is needed in Puerto Rico to promote sports as an economic model?” asked Sánchez.

You have to have metrics, replied the president of the Criollos de Caguas. He regretted that the latest economic study related to sports activities in Puerto Rico was held for the celebration of the XXI Central American and Caribbean Games Mayaguez 2010.

“Since then, sport is not important for economic development,” said Rodríguez, who added that Puerto Rico’s projection outside the island and in the international media is crucial for sports to be economically successful.

Meanwhile, Muñoz Grajales said that Puerto Rico received $13.3 million in promotion in 2018 during two game days held by Major League Baseball on the island, which shows that the sector has potential.

The panelists recognized that investing in sports is uphill, as large amounts of money are needed, and the return on investment is not as high as in other industries. Even so, there are businessmen willing to contribute, such as the artist Bad Bunny and his representative Noah Assad, among many others.

For his part, José Alberto Silva, CPA, who financially advises dozens of high-performance players, said that “it is difficult” to make sports become a sustainable industry in Puerto Rico. “The government gives subsidies, but much more involvement is needed from the government and private companies.”

In Puerto Rico there is a lot of sports infrastructure, but it must be maintained and more needs to be built, according to the panelists.

On the other hand, the advent of sports betting opens the way to generate more enthusiasm among the fans and creates opportunities to attract new sponsors, said the CEO of GFR Media.

If events are organized to attract public before the start of the games, that also helps to move the economy, said the owner of the Criollos.

“Puerto Rico is the ideal place to do sports all year round”according to Rodríguez, so the country should capitalize on it.

“Sport unites the people, families and helps the physical and emotional health of youth,” added Muñoz Grajales, as a message to prospective investors.

2023-05-17 13:10:06
#Sport #Economic #Engine #Puerto #Rico

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