ORLANDO, Fla. – Businesses near Camping World Stadium, many of which have already been struggling because of the coronavirus pandemic, are suffering another financial hit this weekend because the Florida Classic game is canceled because of COVID-19.
The Florida Classic is the biggest rivalry game each year and one of the largest athletic fundraisers between Florida A&M University and Bethune Cookman University.
Many businesses say they’re trying to make ends meet since the week-long events for the Florida Classic are going virtual, but it has been tough.
Peter Daley owns Caribbean Sunshine Bakery and usually has a food truck outside of Camping World Stadium on game day.
“Every year around this time we look forward to the classic weekend,” said Daley. “A lot of people depend on our jerk chicken and our beverages.”
He said business this weekend will be much different from years past when he usually sees a big boost.
It’s also happening at a time where he, like many local business owners, are seeing a major decline in holiday catering orders this year.
“We were hit hard enough this year, so that’s one of the things we were looking forward to,” said Daley. “Compared to last year, we are forecasting another 20% down.”
Karl Brown owns Oley’s Restaurant not far away from Camping World Stadium. He said he’s also trying to stay afloat and stay positive.
“Hopefully, there’s a light at the end of the tunnel,” said Brown. “Trying to figure out a way to survive and prepare for next year.”
Brown said business for him this year is down about 40%, and he expects this classic weekend alone, especially Sunday, his business will be down 60 -70%.
“People start coming in on Thursday and they’re here from Thursday, Friday, game day Saturday and Sunday,” said Brown.
Florida Classic event organizers told News 6 there were 55,730 at the classic game last year and the Orange County Comptroller’s Office said last year the game brought in $28 million in economic impact.
You can read about all of the virtual events happening this week for the Florida Classic and how you can donate to FAMU and/or B-CU at floridaclassic.org