Orlando, Florida, is the most visited destination in the U.S., boasting expansive resort, hotel, dining and shopping options, and is known as the Theme Park Capital of the World. It is also home to the award-winning Orange County Convention Center (OCCC). The Center, which boasts a total of 7 million square feet, hosts a wide variety of sporting events and is recognized for its extensive space, state-of-the-art amenities, commitment to safety and dedication to excellence.
A World-Class Facility
The OCCC excels at hosting a wide variety of sports competitions, and event planers and owners need look no further than the venue’s state-of-the-art facilities. OCCC’s North-South Building and West Building are both situated on International Drive in Orlando.
With more than 950,000 square feet of exhibition space, the North-South Building offers exceptional flexibility for diverse sporting events, and it is home to the world’s largest volleyball competition, the AAU Junior National Volleyball Championship. In 2021, this event broke records, welcoming 135,000-plus guests and more than 3,445 teams from around the world.
“We are pleased to have been able to yet again offer the opportunity to let athletes do what they really want to do, and that’s to play,” says Jennings “Rusty” Buchanan, President/CEO of the AAU. “The 2021 AAU Junior National Volleyball Championships at the Orange County Convention Center welcomed our biggest numbers to date, positively impacting not only the AAU organization but also the Central Florida area as well. Hosting such a large event successfully would not be possible without the dedication, commitment and tireless efforts of the Orange County Convention Center team.”
This past October, USA Volleyball announced that Orlando will host the Sunshine Classic Girls’ Qualifier through 2025. This annual event — a premier qualifying tournament for the USA Volleyball Girls Junior National Championship — will be held at the OCCC, with the 2022 edition slated for April 1-3.
Meanwhile, the West Building, with more than 1 million square feet of exhibition space, has welcomed a wide variety of high-profile sports events including WrestleMania Axxess, USA Volleyball Florida Region, American Open Cheer, and Mr. Olympia Fitness & Performance Weekend.
Designed with flexibility and functionality in mind, the modern West Building offers state-of-the-art amenities for attendees, including newly renovated food courts and refreshment areas.
Recent and Upcoming Sporting Events
In 2020, the OCCC hosted 11 sporting events, welcoming more than 72,000 participants, coaches, chaperones and attendees. In the following year, the venue greeted twice as many, hosting 27 sporting events with more than 393,000 attendees. In March 2021, the OCCC hosted the USA Volleyball Sunshine Volleyball Classic, as well as the All Star Challenge Cheer & Dance competition. The AAU Spring, Easter and Memorial Day Basketball Classic took place from March-May 2021, and the AAU Junior National Volleyball Championships followed in June 2021.
Because the OCCC consistently offers best-in-class service, location and venue, many sporting event organizers choose to return to The Center of Hospitality year after year, solidifying the Center’s ability to satisfy and exceed expectations. As 2022 kicks off, The Center of Hospitality will welcome back many long-standing and some new sporting and athletic events. Key returning events include the All Out Grand Nationals (January 2022), Florida Volleyball Challenge (April 2022), USA Volleyball Sunshine Volleyball Classic (April 2022), AAU Junior National Volleyball Championships (June 2022), and Ohio Basketball 2022 (July 2022).
The OCCC provides approximately $3 billion in economic impact to Central Florida annually. In recent years, the venue has averaged nearly 200 events, including 115 conventions and trade shows that attract more than 1.5 million attendees to the region each year.
In January the OCCC hosted Florida Fest, a girls’ and boys’ volleyball tournament that welcomed 5,500 attendees and generated an estimated economic impact of $7 million. Following Florida Fest, the OCCC welcomed back the All Out Grand Nationals, a 17,000-person cheer event that contributed nearly $22 million of economic impact to Orange County.
In March the OCCC hosts multiple cheer and dance events, such as the American Open Nationals cheer and dance competition with more than 6,000 attendees and a projected economic impact of $8 million. Later this month, the AmeriCheer AmeriDance competition will return to the OCCC, followed by the All Star Challenge Cheer and Dance National Championships, with approximately 5,000 attendees, creating an estimated $6.5 million of economic impact.
It is nearly impossible to underestimate the importance of safeguarding the health and safety of all OCCC attendees. As a Global Biorisk Advisory Council (GBAC) STAR accredited venue, the OCCC has taken every precaution to ensure a safe and seamless experience for sporting events at The Center of Hospitality. This includes enhanced cleaning in line with GBAC STAR standards, collaborating with Orlando Health to offer the first-of-its-kind medical concierge service for attendees, and working closely with groups to identify safe solutions that are tailored to their events and adhere to current guidelines.
With ample space for physical distancing, the OCCC can help planners devise solutions to create a controlled and organized space to host any sporting event with confidence. Putting its three-pronged strategy into practice, the OCCC continues to remain committed to working with event organizers to provide a safe experience for competitors, coaches and spectators.
“Our success is testament on how modified sporting events can be hosted safely, responsibly and enjoyably. Since the onset of the pandemic, the OCCC has hosted almost 200 events, and many were sporting events,” says OCCC Executive Director Mark Tester. “We thank our partners for their continued confidence in our center and look forward to working with many other sports organizations in the future.”
Adding to the Fun
Besides offering top-notch competition venues, the OCCC is within easy walking and driving distance of world-class dining, shopping and attractions that are sure to add fun and excitement to any Orlando area visit. Theme park enthusiasts will find plenty of thrills at Walt Disney World Resort, Universal Orlando Resort, SeaWorld Orlando and LEGOLAND Florida Resort.
Opportunities also abound for ziplining, airboat rides, water parks, animal encounters and many other outdoor experiences and recreational activities, and the city’s dining and entertainment districts can satisfy any appetite. There are nearly 10,000 hotel rooms within walking distance of the OCCC, and the connecting hotels are just steps away with adjoining pedestrian bridges for added convenience.
Located in the heart of Orlando’s tourist corridor, The Center of Hospitality is easily accessible for both domestic and transatlantic travelers. Offering convenience and connectivity, the OCCC is just a 15-minute drive from the Orlando International Airport (MCO), and 45 minutes from the Sanford Orlando International Airport (SFB), making it easy and affordable for teams in the Southeast to reach the Center.
For more information on how the Orange County Convention Center can help you plan and implement a successful event, contact Eric Blanc, CMP, Sr. Director of Sales, at 407-685-9833 or via email at Eric.Blanc@occc.net. SDM