In April 1978, Orange County voters approved a 2% tax on tourism development with plans to construct a convention center. Mayor Jerry Demings recently announced that the county is striving to keep the local convention industry afloat during this difficult period. The grand opening of the facility took place on February 26th with the Boston Pops Orchestra providing entertainment. Phase V of the center began in the summer of 2000, after Reed Exhibitions agreed to organize 42 conventions in Orlando.
The convention center also revealed that rental expenses are usually only a small part of the income it generates from events, since it makes most of its money selling services such as gear, parking, and food. Orange County officials anticipate that the consumer fair will attract 26,000 attendees, although it is uncertain how many will come from outside the market. This large center is situated on the south end of International Drive, which is Orlando's most popular tourist destination. Furthermore, the influence that a convention center or show has on negotiations depends on various factors such as the type of event and time of year. Even before COVID-19, discounts had become a permanent feature of the industry, partly because there is more space available at convention centers than large events to fill it.
The use of incentives is one of the reasons why this 7 million square foot convention center operates at a loss most years, leaving Orange County to fill the gap with hotel tax money. The Orange County Convention Center and other locations across the country have been cutting rent and offering other benefits to show promoters in an effort to fill their space with events for years. The convention center was established due to a law passed by the state legislature in 1977 that allowed state counties to collect a tourism development tax, in addition to the current state sales tax on hotel room stays. The Orange County Convention Center consists of two buildings connected by an aerial bridge. David Audrain, executive director of the Society of Independent Show Organizers, which represents companies that organize trade shows, conventions and other events, said it is difficult to determine how much of an impact COVID-19 has had nationwide on discounts at convention centers, since there are many variables involved in each negotiation.
The show's promoter, Motor Trend Group LLC, had initially booked the convention center for September but postponed the event due to COVID-19. Dan Solomon, president of Olympia Productions, compared discounts to small stimulus packages generated by some businesses for hotels, restaurants and attractions for which the convention center was designed - many of which are desperate for customers during this pandemic.