ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. – Orange County Convention Center Executive Director Mark Tester said more than a dozen conventions and events have relocated to the OCCC, with a busy summer ahead.
He said the biggest money maker for the local economy has been sporting events.
“We’re back, we’re back in recovery we’re hosting events, almost on a weekly basis right now,” said Tester.
According to Tester, spring and summer sporting events at the convention center are estimated to bring in about $123 million with more than 95,000 attendees. The Sunshine Volleyball Classic that took place in early March accounted for a large chunk of the economic impact.
“Amateur athletics is the first market that really is back in earnest in the event space. We have very large facilities, so our volleyball tournament is spread out. Courts are further apart, fans and parents significantly further apart. That’s an attractive thing for them,” said Tester.
The convention center is also attracting other events and conferences that are relocating from other states still early on in their reopening process.
The Mr. and Ms. Olympia body building event was hosted here for the first time in December. They’ve already recommitted to us for October of this year,’ said Tester.
Keep in mind, while events and conferences are underway, the convention center is still a regional COVID-19 testing site and vaccination center. Utilizing its parking garage and lots.
“We have a very large campus and we’re experts in coordination and getting transportation and getting things around,” said Tester.
Tester said the convention center is estimated to bring in about $1.83 billion this year, which is a slow recovery from the $3 billion impact it usually brings to the economy. However, he said they were able to reduce the operating budget and keep their full-timers employed through the pandemic.
The convention center has also undergone some renovations, deep cleaning and reorganization.
Tester said he is expecting the convention center to go back to full capacity sometime in June or July.