Host City sportsbiz sportstech

“Our strategy is to continue to market Orlando as the premier sporting destination in the U.S.”

6 days ago

Orlando has made its name as one of the hottest sporting destinations in the world. It boasts of a dedicated sports commission ‘Greater Orlando Sports Commission’ that work closely with city, county, and state governments to attract and host sporting events and has a proven track record of success in bringing major events to the city. iSportConnect’s Taruka Srivastav spoke with President Jason Siegel to know more.

Tell us about the current strategy for the Greater Orlando Sports Commission. What makes Orlando a great sporting destination?

Our current strategy is to solidify Orlando as the premier host city destination in the United States. Orlando’s proven track record of hosting successful world-class sporting events is a testament to our community’s unwavering support and collaborative spirit. Orlando is ideally positioned to deliver successful events on all fronts, encompassing youth/amateur, Olympic, collegiate, international, esports, or anything in between. In terms of infrastructure, Orlando boasts an impressive 35+ world-class sports venues across the region, with over 200,000 rooms readily available to accommodate athletes, officials, and fans. Our Greater Orlando Sports Commission team fully aligns with the local government and tourism ecosystem to ensure smooth and successful events for all stakeholders.

Orlando is home to passionate, dedicated sports fans who have embraced several different sporting events, including the Florida Cup face-off between Juventus and Real Madrid, WrestleMania, the Special Olympics USA Games, and the International Waterski & Wakeboard Federation World Championships in 2021 and 2023. This summer, we have a thrilling lineup of events, including a friendly soccer match between Team USA and Brazil, two Copa America matches and the Soccer Champions Tour match-up between Manchester City and F.C. Barcelona. 

In 2023, Orlando welcomed more than six million international visitors, a 25% increase from 2022.

We were recently very proud to be named the 2024 best sports business city for event hosting in the U.S. by Sports Business Journal (SBJ), and we look to continue building on this exciting momentum.

What are the events you have recently hosted? How does the city benefit from sporting events?

This Saturday, May 25, we’ll wrap up the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) DII National Championships Festival. This incredible event brought together championships for six sports, which came out to around 800 student-athletes across 32 teams. This event has been equally beneficial for the athletes as it has been for our community. We made a considerable effort to make the athletes feel celebrated with Opening and Closing Ceremonies, coupled with community engagement opportunities across Orlando. The event has been nothing short of entertaining and exciting for our community’s sports fans.

In February, we had the honor of hosting the USA Track & Field Olympic Marathon Trials, as well as the 2024 NFL Pro Bowl Games on the very same weekend. The Marathon Trials were a huge success with over 100,000 spectators coming out to cheer on the athletes throughout the duration of the course. The economic impact of the event was very positive, as was the feedback from local businesses. The Trials showcased our city in the best way and was all around an incredible success for everyone involved. 

Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) volleyball events have also become a staple in Orlando. Coming up on June 13, the world’s largest volleyball tournament, the AAU Junior National Championships, will get underway at the Orange County Convention Center with over 6,000 registered teams, a 15% increase from last year. 

What is your (commercial / digital / marketing / content) strategy and what are the main challenges? How do local businesses gain?

Our strategy is to continue to market Orlando as the premier sporting destination in the U.S. We welcome local, national, and international media to sporting events and are thankful for their positive representation of our city. 

Ensuring that our local community benefits from Orlando’s event hosting is our top priority. We have very positive relationships with local businesses and stakeholders and are committed to bringing events that boost economic activity for the greater Orlando area. Our community’s passion for sport continues to be reflected through their support, and we have seen positive results over the years. Hosting events year-round helps drive tourism income during non-peak travel season and positively impacts businesses in the area. 

Just this week, the Orange County Board of County Commissioners voted to increase the annual allocation of Sports Incentive Funding from $4M to $10M beginning in 2025. This will allow Orlando to maintain its competitive advantage and fulfil its mission to host world-class sports events. 

Who are your delivery partners and what is the scope of the collaboration?

We enjoy strong community collaboration with the local government from the City of Orlando and the four counties that comprise our region (Orange, Osceola, Lake and Seminole). The entire tourism ecosystem across Orlando, including destination marketing organizations (DMOs), hoteliers, restauranteurs, transportation providers, and attraction operators work together seamlessly to host events that benefit the local economy, bringing in visitors from all over to experience the best of what we have to offer. 

For the Marathon Trials, we partnered with Universal to host a special reception for athletes ahead of the competition, so having entertainment powerhouses like Universal and Disney here in the community offers a unique experience for athletes, fans, officials and stakeholders. 

Host City sportsbiz sportstech