River City Wrestling Con Brings New Sports Tourism Event to St. Johns County

Sports Tourism took a leap forward this weekend when St. Johns County was the location for River City Wrestling Con. This is Florida’s celebration of Pro Wrestling fandom that brought in over 100 wrestlers and over 4,000 attendees. With two big days of wrestling matches, autograph sessions, merchandise sales, Q & A panels, trivia games, fans had the opportunity to engage directly with their favorite celebrity wrestlers.  

Sports tourism has tremendous potential for St. Johns County.  While we don’t sometimes think of this as economic development, it attracted a large number of visitors that may not have come to St. Augustine otherwise.  Nick Bateh, event promoter, said, “We saw a tremendous uptick on out-of-town guests this year, our first year in St. Johns County after being previously held in Jacksonville.  We sold out room nights in the Renaissance World Golf and the Holiday Inn Express World Golf and had other guests staying across the county.  Over 50% of the attendees were from a radius outside of 150 miles so we felt good about our marketing efforts outside the region.”  

To put that in a tax revenue perspective these attendees contributed to the hotel bed tax, sales tax, and ate in local restaurants.  Sports Tourism is one area that we can expand and diversify our tourism base and it is one of the fastest growing markets across the US.  It provides the region with an opportunity to introduce St. Augustine and St. Johns County to an entirely different set of visitors.  One goal would be to have attendees at these types of events to extend their stay and enjoy the other attractions the region has to offer.  

There is also a philanthropic impact with events of this type.  Nick and River City Wrestling Con partnered with the Police Athletic League of St. Johns to host students at the event and let them meet and talk with their favorite wrestlers.  It provided an opportunity for the students to ask questions and learn about the business and entertainment side of the sport.  Booker T, 6-time World Champion and 2-time Hall of Famer said, “What a time we had here in St. Augustine.  The fans were awesome, and I cannot wait to get back.”  Bateh and his team at River City Wrestling Con are already planning for next year’s event.