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José Miguel Agrelot Coliseum puts international spotlight on Puerto Rico

Generates $15 million in gross ticket sales since September 2004


March 31, 2005
Copyright © 2005 CARIBBEAN BUSINESS. All Rights Reserved.

In just six months, the José Miguel Agrelot Coliseum, affectionately known in Puerto Rico as the Choliseo, has become an international attraction luring visitors to world-class events from as far away as China and bringing global attention to the island.

Earlier this month, concerts by international star Usher were televised live on Showtime with preconcert shows held at various sites in Puerto Rico broadcast on MTV. The Usher concert attracted visitors from the mainland U.S., Mexico, various South American countries, and even China. Although SMG, which manages the Coliseum, is currently not targeting international visitors, the Coliseum is nonetheless attracting fans willing to pay the cost of airfare and lodgings to see their favorite stars or sporting events in Puerto Rico.

Ticket Pop Administrative Manager Noel Pérez informed CARIBBEAN BUSINESS that at least 12,791 tickets have been sold to customers with addresses outside Puerto Rico. Ticket purchase orders have arrived from the mainland U.S., Europe, South and Central America, Canada, and the Dominican Republic.

"The Coliseum is in the spotlight. It has attracted attention to the island and is certainly bringing business in," said Dale Adams, SMG general manager who said the Coliseum employs approximately 500 people per event.

SMG’s marketing efforts, however, are targeted mainly toward local ticket buyers because Puerto Rico has a dense population that makes the business a self-sufficient one, according to Adams.

SMG Assistant General Manager Jochi Dávila says Puerto Rico has an advantage over cities in Latin America because there is no coliseum of this caliber south of the island, which also has the dollar as its currency.

From September to March 2005, activities held in the José Miguel Agrelot Coliseum have accounted for $15 million in gross ticket sales for 41 events, of which 28 were music concerts and 13 family-oriented activities.

"Most of the promoters and agents are very impressed with what we’ve done so far. Pollstar and Billboard has ranked us favorably putting us in the number two position in gross ticket sales for the Usher concerts," Adams said. "Within SMG and other worldwide coliseums, Puerto Rico is certainly at the top of the list. We are competing against major structures such as the NASA Coliseum and the Nationwide Arena in Columbus." SMG expects to close its first year of operations with 75 to 80 events.

The Juanes and Usher concerts combined completely sold out four shows that brought 50,000 people to the Coliseum in one week. "That would not have happened in the Roberto Clemente Coliseum. We have expanded the market. Now people are paying more attention to the island because it has the facility and the capability of any other city in terms of entertainment," explained Adams.

Island becomes top entertainment site

The José Miguel Agrelot Coliseum has had an economic impact of approximately $24 million and achieved higher than projected revenue. Rental income from February 2004 to January 2005 was forecast at $423,500 but reached $1 million; food and beverage income for the same period was projected at $504,743 and reached $930,417; and total income was projected at $3.6 million but reached $4.3 million. According to SMG 317,000 people have visited the coliseum since it first opened.

"This is definitely a top market. If you compare it to Houston, New York, Las Vegas, or Chicago where there are almost 11 million people, we can say this is a top 10, top 20 market. People outside Puerto Rico are starting to see our billboard numbers and they are impressed," said Adams, who believes local producers are now content with the way SMG is working.

Future plans for the Coliseum include organizing regular events in the property’s plaza, developing small events for the general public, and the possibility of building a restaurant. "We are willing to participate in the efforts to develop entertainment and dining businesses around the Hato Rey area. It’s important we attract more people to the area to showcase the island internationally," Adams pointed out.

Local producer Angelo Medina said the Puerto Rico Coliseum is one of the best in the world and marks a new era for the local market and for Puerto Rico as an international entertainment venue. The event producer says, however, that Puerto Rico lacks a public policy that sees the entertainment industry as an important economic catalyst for economic development. Medina is planning a major event involving all of Puerto Rico, three concert nights at the Coliseum and worldwide media transmission. "We are thinking of calling it the San Juan Fest and we consider this event can position Puerto Rico in the international spotlight just as carnivals have done for Brazil," Medina said.

"The Puerto Rico Coliseum represents a shift from the operational problems and the worn-out condition of the Roberto Clemente Coliseum.

The advantage of the new Coliseum is that it not only offers excellent conditions but it offers service, quality, good food and beverage concessions, a secure seating arrangement, air conditioning, and an entirely new experience that is certainly far beyond that of the Roberto Clemente," asserted Medina, adding that the Roberto Clemente must restructure its operational system and its physical plant or suffer irreparable damage.

Calendar coordinator at the Roberto Clemente, Noelia Rodríguez, asserted that many producers are going back to the municipal coliseum because they can’t afford to pay SMG prices. San Juan Economic Development Director Luis Vélez confirmed sales at the Roberto Clemente are slightly below their normal levels and argued the decrease can be related to their responsibility of leasing the coliseum to industry trade shows, which bring in less revenue.

This Caribbean Business article appears courtesy of Casiano Communications.
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