Sports in Paradise: Puerto Rico
12 May, 2014By: Juli Anne Patty
Looking for a sports destination that offers not just everything you need, but also everything you want? Puerto Rico is the place for you.
Puerto Rico provides world-class facilities and knowledgeable local sports federations for support and competition standards, logistics infrastructure such as transportation options and support staff. Puerto Rico also has its own Olympic Committee, which means Olympic-quality national teams, athletes, coaches, and trainers, providing a high level of competition and expertise, for any sporting event.
Whatever a sports planner’s need, Puerto Rico has it covered – on a tropical island. In the Caribbean
Milton Segarra, president & CEO, Meet Puerto Rico –and a former professional basketball player – feels confident about the Island’s capacity for meetings and events related to the sports market.
“In addition to being the premier destination in the Caribbean for meetings and conventions, Puerto Rico is on the rise as a world-class destination for sporting events. Our destination has a history of hosting international events, and coupled with our solid sports tradition, renowned athletes and our enthusiastic people, we are well-positioned to accommodate most any sporting event,” Segarra says.
In recent years, Puerto Rico has welcomed a variety of major events:
PR PGA Open (2014-7th edition)
World Baseball Classic
ESPN PR Tipoff-Basketball Tournament
World Best 10K (2014-10th edition)
Divas Half Marathon (2014-4th edition)
IRONMAN Half Marathon (2014-4th edition)
VelaunoSUP Paddle Royal
Puerto Rico Dragon Boat Festival
RipCurl Pro Puerto Rico
Puerto Rico FINA Diving Grand Prix (2014-2nd edition)
2013 International Wheelchair & Amputee (IWA) Sports, Jr. World Championships
2011 IWA Formula Windsurfing World Championship
2011 IKA North American Kitesurfing Championship
2010 Mayagüez Central American and Caribbean Games
Big-name events flourish in Puerto Rico and the Meet Puerto Rico team is the ideal partner to deliver a fantastic event in paradise. This group of professionals can assist with every detail of meeting planning and execution. Among the many services offered by Meet Puerto Rico are site selection, hotel and transportation booking; grants and incentives; social media marketing and micro-site development; city permits; and city officials, authorities, and member-suppliers’ liaison.
And that’s just the beginning. With offices in San Juan, New York, Orlando, Chicago and Washington DC, the Meet Puerto Rico team is always available and easily accessible to event planners. They act as a liaison between event planners and nearly 300 of the Island’s member suppliers, ranging from hotels and transportation to restaurants and local artisans. Their goal, above all, is to be part of an event planner’s team, and they welcome questions and requests.
Short Distance, Exceptional Facilities
It is possible to drive around the entire island in about a day, which means, in Puerto Rico, nothing is too far away. It also means that all of Puerto Rico’s exceptional facilities are within easy reach. The Island is rich with outstanding venues (the oceanfront is one of the most popular), but just to name a few:
Coliseo de Puerto Rico - Puerto Rico’s largest arena is the Coliseo de Puerto Rico, which opened in San Juan in 2004. Its modern structure can host up to 18,500 spectators for basketball, hockey, ice-skating, tennis, gymnastics, boxing and other events.
Roberto Clemente Walker Stadium - The Roberto Clemente Walker Stadium is an ultra-modern synthetic field baseball park with a Major League two-level stadium seating design for 12,500 complete with a clubhouse that operates year round for events.
Golf Courses - Puerto Rico features over 20 golf courses, most of which are of championship caliber. These award-winning courses have been designed by the likes of Robert Trent Jones, Sr., Greg Norman, George and Tom Fazio, Jack Nicklaus, Arthur Hill and Puerto Rico’s own Chi Chi Rodriquez. In fact, the Puerto Rico Open has been part of the PGA Tour since 2008.
Natatorium of San Juan - The Natatorium of San Juan, a covered outdoor swimming and diving facility designed after the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games, has capacity for 1,800 spectators and is available for swimming, diving, synchronized swim and water polo events.
Mayagüez Athletic Stadium - The Mayagüez Athletic Stadium is a 13,000-seat capacity facility located on the Island’s west coast. It hosted the athletics and soccer games of the 2010 Central American and Caribbean Games. The field is FIFA certified and has a 400-meter track in full compliance with the International Association of Athletics Federation (IAAF).
Beyond the Competition
Exceptional facilities, an experienced team … lots of destinations can make those claims. But in Puerto Rico, planners will get a bit more. Well, a lot more, really—a whole island more.
After the competition is over, Puerto Rico has more than a few other attractions to wow visitors.
Puerto Rico has 272 miles of coastline and hundreds of beaches, offering snorkeling, SCUBA diving, sailing, deep-sea fishing and windsurfing. Sports enthusiasts also appreciate more than 100 tennis courts and 14 championship golf courses. For those into extreme sports, this is the place, with opportunities to hang from a cable thousands of feet in the air, climb a mountain and ride world-class mountain bike trails.
The Island also offers some of the finest dining in the Caribbean, including Puerto Rican specialties—a mix of Spanish, Creole and Indian flavors—and cuisines from around the world. Puerto Rico also delivers a wide variety of nighttime and cultural activities including casinos and nightclubs.
Historical Old San Juan—the only walled city in the Caribbean—is a haven for history buffs. The city boasts four fortresses from the Spanish colonial empire. Visitors can walk the cobblestone streets of the old city or visit the myriad of historic sites and buildings dating from the 17th and 18th centuries.
Outside San Juan, visitors can explore the unique El Yunque Rainforest, the only tropical rainforest in the U.S. National Forest system. The island's oldest natural wonder, the Camuy Caves is the site of one of the longest underground river systems in the world. Certain to amaze visitors, Caguana Indian Ceremonial Park is a treasured preservation of stone monoliths and petroglyphs dating from 800 A.D. Then there are the man-made attractions, including the Arecibo Observatory, the site of the largest radio/radar telescope in the world.
Yes, Puerto Rico is an island, but bringing an event to Puerto Rico is simple and streamlined. Here are the basics:
Puerto Rico is a Commonwealth of the United States, and U.S. citizens do not need passports to visit the island. If visiting from another country other than the United States, a visa is required to enter the island. These requirements are standard and are the same as for entering the United States. The purpose and extent of the visit will determine which visa to apply for.
There are hundreds of non-stop flights in and out of Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport (SJU) every day. Chicago is less than five hours away. New York is under four and Panama City is under three. Just hop on a plane, take a nap, and wake up in San Juan; or, in any of Puerto Rico’s other convenient airports like Borinquen Airport (BQN) in Aguadilla, or Mercedita Airport (PSE) in Ponce. Getting around once you’re in Puerto Rico is easy.
Both Spanish and English are the Island's official languages. English is widely spoken, especially in San Juan.
Year-round tropical climate with average temperatures between 70°F-85°F.
Over 14,000 guest rooms ensure that Island guests will be easily accommodated in Puerto Rico's world-class hotels and resorts. Puerto Rico's quarter million square feet of meeting space also makes the Island ideal for meetings and incentive programs. Luxurious hotels and resorts, located conveniently throughout the Island, reflect Puerto Rico's lush beauty and can accommodate groups of all sizes.
It’s Time to Meet Puerto Rico
Puerto Rico is the sports paradise sports planners have been looking for, and the Meet Puerto Rico team is waiting for a call. Come visit them at www.meetpuertorico.com.