Central Florida vies for $242M in future sports biz


If a new Orange County committee plays its cards right, the region may host two major sports events with the potential to bring in hundreds of millions of dollars in new .

The county’s tourist development sports incentive committee — a group that began meeting this month to help vet the best uses of resort taxes for sporting events — approved two inaugural proposals that could result in more than $242 million in economic impact: the 2022 Special Olympics and WrestleMania.

Tourist development taxes, also known as resort taxes, are fees collected by Orange County garnered from hotel/motel room or other short-term lodging sales. Those taxes go toward funding the region’s tourism and marketing agency Visit ; renovations and enhancements to the Orange County Convention Center; and upgrades to local venues like Camping World Stadium.

“Both of these opportunities meet the goals for Orange County,” Central Florida Sports Commission CEO Jason Siegel told county leaders at the April 9 meeting. “These achieve returns on investment of the tourist development tax; it attracts [high-level] sports events to the region and supports our tourism industry.”

Meanwhile, the two events would be major for Central Florida as they carry national exposure on television and social media, as well as help generate economic growth. National exposure also can result in encouraging more tourism- or business-related visitation to the region.

In addition, sporting events are vital to the region and often translate into vacations, providing more business for the region’s $60 billion tourism and travel industry.

Orange County’s sports incentive committee began this first year with $5 million in resort taxes to allocate for sporting events, with an additional $2 million added each year. Any funds not used during the year are carried forward to the next year.

Here’s more about the sporting events in play:

  • 2022 Special Olympics: The local organizing group for the future event is requesting $2 million in resort taxes to bring the games to Orlando. The games would result in as much as $61 million in economic impact, 57,000 hotel room nights and draw nearly 100,000 spectators, families, coaches and athletes. The games would be spread across the region in various venues, Joe Dzaluk, president and CEO of Orlando’s Special Olympics bid entity, told the county board at the April 9 meeting. Games would be hosted at Disney’s ESPN Wide World of Sports, the YMCA Aquatic Center on International Drive, the U.S. Tennis Association’s USTA National Campus in Lake Nona, local bowling venues and more.
  • WrestleMania: The Central Florida Sports Commission is working to bring back the marquee professional wrestling event that came here last April at downtown Orlando’s Camping World Stadium. The commission requested $1 million in resort taxes for the event owned and operated by the World Wrestling Entertainment Inc. (NYSE: WWE). Last year, WrestleMania 33 resulted in more than $161 million in economic impact, drawing more than 75,000 fans to Camping World Stadium; attracting 150,000 people to WWE’s related citywide events at venues like the convention center; and generating more than 50,000 hotel room nights. WWE is in the process of selecting host cities for the event between 2021 through 2025, but the best chance for Orlando to land the event may be 2023 or 2025, based on convention center availability.

7 things to know today and best and worst airlines for customer complaints







Good morning, !

When it came to the rate of customer complaints about in 2017, passengers were feeling the love for Southwest Airlines.

Southwest (NYSE: LUV) — the largest carrier at Orlando International Airport — had the lowest rate of passenger complaints officially filed with the U.S. Department of Transportation last year at 0.47 per 100,000 passengers.

That’s according to the annual Airline Quality Rating released Monday, which utilizes that and other DOT data to compile an overall ranking for the 12-largest U.S. airlines.

And on the metric of customer complaints, which, again only measures those officially lodged with DOT, Southwest was part of an overall industry improvement in 2017.

More here on how the 12 airlines in the study did.

And be sure to check out these other Thursday headlines:

Bid deadline for Port Canaveral’s new $150M cruise terminal nears

It’s the last call to compete for a major contract with Port Canaveral and its future $150 million Cruise Terminal 3. The new terminal is part of a much larger 30-year master plan, which includes more than $2.7 billion in improvements. More here on the deadline and how to apply.

Seminole State College names new president

Georgia Lorenz, currently vice president of academic affairs at Santa Monica College in California, was approved unanimously as president-elect of Seminole State College of Florida by the school’s board of trustees on April 11. More here.

Report: Pokemon land in the works at Universal Studios Florida

Universal Orlando Resort is still in early stages of its future Super Nintendo World project, but it may include one of Nintendo’s most popular game series: Pokemon, the uber-successful video game and TV show franchise. More here from WFTV.

Bank of America pledges to halt lending to assault-weapon manufacturers

Bank of America Corp. (NYSE: BAC) has pledged to stop lending to companies that provide military-style firearms for civilian use. Vice Chairman Anne Finucane spoke on the matter in an interview with Bloomberg on Tuesday. More here.

Hulu teams with Spotify on $13 bundle

Music and video fans can now get their streaming for one low monthly price: Spotify and Hulu now offer a combined, all-you-can-stream bundle for $12.99 per month. The companies plan to make the $13 bundle available to new subscribers this summer. More here.

Best quotes from Zuckerberg: What Facebook’s CEO told Congress

n case you missed Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s first of two days testifying before congressional committees, or just need a refresher of what the 33-year-old billionaire told lawmakers,


Tavistock exec’s commitment is building Lake Nona’s sports empire

Lake Nona is one of Central Florida’s fastest-growing regions and a hotbed for new development in all aspects including and wellness.

Inside Lake Nona is a burgeoning 300-acre sports district that’s home to the U.S. Tennis Association’s $100 million USTA National Campus and the future $20 million Orlando City Soccer training facility.

The sports district also has plans for a new eight-story Lake Nona Resort catering to sports performance and well-being, plus a planned water sports park.

Further, the region intends to seek to become the home of USA Gymnastics. The team is leaving its Texas home for a new location and Lake Nona executives have voiced their desire to bring the team here.

At the head of many of those discussions is Andy Odenbach, vice president of sports ventures with Development Co. He is spearheading many efforts by the firm to develop Lake Nona into one of the most cutting-edge sports communities in the world.

Here, Odenbach tells Orlando Journal more about future plans, his goals for 2018 and more:

What are your business goals for 2018? We are working on a number of significant projects right now at Lake Nona. Unfortunately, a number of non-disclosure agreements have been signed that keep me from getting too specific, but if we can announce at least two, then it will be a great 2018.

What are your personal goals for 2018? To make sure I am maximizing quality time with my teenagers. We already have one at Florida State University, and before you know it, the other three will be out of the house, too. I also am looking to shave a few minutes off my time at St. Anthony’s Triathlon in St. Petersburg at the end of this month.

What’s the latest on the efforts to bring USA Gymnastics to Orlando? They still have plenty of things they are working through with a new CEO. I wouldn’t be surprised if a request for proposals is released in the next few weeks.

If you could add anything sports-related besides gymnastics to Lake Nona, what would that be? We recently announced a 110,000-square-foot-plus, medically-integrated fitness facility, in partnership with Signet and Integrated Wellness Partners, last month during the Lake Nona Impact Forum. We need to nail the design, programming and partners. If we do this right, it will become a resource that other national governing bodies, professional athletes and amateur athletes all will want access to, regardless of where they live. You will love being a member to access everything this center will have.

What about the culture of Lake Nona impresses you most?People generally want to be a part of something bigger than themselves. At Lake Nona, people recognize that we are building a city within a city – together. The “together” part is critical to the culture. It’s not about a developer and the residents who happen to live there. It’s an entire ecosystem of people, families, workers, companies, ideas and values that together create this place where great things can happen.

What’s a motto you live by? If you’re going to commit yourself to something, then make sure you are “all in” and give it everything you’ve got. This isn’t just a work thing, it’s a parent thing, it’s a spouse thing, it’s a personal thing, as well. If you can’t give a maximum commitment, then don’t do it. I learned it the hard way, by having those moments when I didn’t fully commit and ended up being disappointed with myself.

Who inspires you to get up and work every day? I used to get up and grind every day for me, but now it’s for my kids. I’m simply hoping the hustle wears off on them.

What do you do to wind down after a busy day? Cook or have a glass of wine with my wife on the couch. Sometimes both.

What are your top three sports or physical activities? Swim, bike, run and golf — oops, that’s four.

What’s your guilty pleasure food? Do India pale ales count? There are lots of carbs and calories in there.

What current businessperson inspires you? I was invited to a KPMG women’s leadership summit and was really impressed with Ginni Rometty, CEO of IBM. She is intelligent, well-spoken and knew the ins and outs of her business. Nothing was given to her and, most importantly, she really seemed to care about her employees and customers. I truly believe if you care about your customers and care about the people who work for you, the results will be there.

Who is a non-living businessperson that inspires you? Anyone who had the courage to create something incredible when society told them they were nuts. Think Henry Ford, Walt Disney, Steve Jobs or the Wright Brothers. I’m a sucker for big ideas and perseverance.

What is the biggest lesson you’ve learned in your career? Stay humble, stay hungry, listen, help everyone you can and don’t take yourself too seriously.

Lake Nona area to get new grocer, restaurant and more

Emerson International Inc. wants to build a new retail center in southeast near .

The Altamonte Springs-based development firm is seeking approval from the Orange County development review committee on April 11 to build a 40,600-square-foot retail center in the Eagle Creek community. The $6 million-$8 million commercial center would be built on 8.29 acres of undeveloped land at 13615 Narcoossee Road.

The project will include:

  • A 21,900-square-foot grocery store
  • A 5,000-square-foot restaurant

Civil engineering firm VHB and C4 Architecture are working on the retail project. A new shopping center brings with it opportunities for companies, vendors and people looking for jobs, as well as retailers that want a presence near Lake Nona.

The overall 67,500-square-foot lot is part of the mixed-used Eagle Creek community that fronts Narcoossee Road.

The community has The Sanctuary at Eagle Creek, a 282-unit apartment complex, and townhomes dubbed the Curzon Place Golf Villas, developed by Emerson International.

Stressed about work? You must live in Florida


 7 things to know today

Good morning, !

Lately, it seems like everywhere you turn, someone is talking about — or offering advice on — how to deal with stress.

Stress levels nationwide have been rising for many demographics since their low point in 2016. Common stressors include the future of America and money, along with uncertainty about health care. But not all demographics are affected in the same way. For example, women’s stress levels rose in the past year while men’s actually dropped.

So to determine the Most & Least Stressed States, WalletHub analyzed 38 key indicators of stress to determine the places to avoid and achieve a more relaxing life. The dataset ranges from average hours worked per week to personal bankruptcy rate and share of adults getting adequate sleep.

Here in the Sunshine State, we scored in the good range for family-related stress (No. 6), health and safety-related stress (No. 20) and money-related stress (No. 22), but not so good when it comes to work-related stress (No. 37). That gave us an overall ranking of No. 16 on the list.

It turns out that Louisiana is the least stressful state, while Minnesota is the most stressful place to live. See the full data here.

And be sure to check out these other Thursday headlines:

A New York-based development group wants to build three apartment towers in Orlando’s bustling downtown. More here on what’s next for the developer and what the project will include.

Here’s how many jobs Orlando added

The Orlando-Kissimmee-Sanford MSA added 6,200 construction jobs between February 2017 to February 2018, a new report from Associated General Contractors of America shows. In all, construction employment increased in 257 out of 358 metro areas in that time frame, declined in 50 and stagnated in 51. See the metro data here and state data here.

SpaceX launches RemoveDebris experiment on Falcon 9 rocket

The Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon capsule spacecraft that Elon Musk-owned rocket company SpaceX launched from Cape Canaveral to the International Space Station on April 2 carried a high-tech experiment designed to help bust down the many small pieces of material floating in low Earth orbit that can hinder future space travel. .

Orange County tourist tax collections up in February

Orange County tourist tax collections for the month of February totaled $23,813,900, an 8.9% increase over the year-ago period. Tourist taxes are charged on short-term rentals, mostly hotels and motels. Year-to-date, collections through February total $114,756,700, a 10.7% increase over a year ago.

The Walt Disney Co. plans to launch ESPN+, its new sports-focused subscription streaming service, on April 12. ESPN+, its first direct-to-consumer TV service and will give fans a “dynamic” lineup of live sports, original content and on-demand programming for a subscription price of $4.99 per month.

Delta Air Lines hit by data breach

Delta Air Lines — one of the largest carriers at Orlando International Airport — said it is investigating a data breach involving a company, [24], that provides online chat services for it and other companies. Delta said in a statement that the breach, which occurred from Sept. 26 to Oct. 12, 2017, involved “certain customer payment information.” It did not say how many customers may have been affected.

OIA tackles potential development of 1,300 acres

Orlando International Airport is looking at the potential of its east airfield for future expansion and overall growth.


The Greater Aviation Authority, the entity that oversees the airport, has teamed up with real estate firm Jones LangLaSalle Inc. to look at how 1,342 acres of airport-owned vacant land can be developed in the near future. The land, bought by the airport over several decades dating back to 1986, is prime for developments that cater to operations such as fuel storage, training, distribution and logistics, warehouses or other airport-related needs.

“Our original purpose was to acquire this property to expand if needed and to provide aviation opportunities for support uses that would generate jobs,” Phil Brown, executive director with the Greater Orlando Aviation Authority, told Orlando Journal. “Our whole intent, which goes back to one of our main goals in economic development, is to use that property to bring new jobs to the airport and generate non-aviation revenue, which accounts for 30 percent of the airport’s [$518.2 million] budget.”

There’s no timeline for when the land will be developed and leased out, but Brown said he is ready to hear proposals. He said the airport constantly is growing and the available land is a major asset for that growth. “They are not making any more land,” he said, noting other airports in Florida are mostly landlocked.

Orlando International Airport is looking at how it can use more than 1,300 acres for future development.
Orlando International Airport is looking at how it can use more than 1,300 acres for future development.
Most of the 1,300-plus acres is useable — roughly 1,100 acres — with the rest designated as wetlands. The land also is near access points for the airport and highway systems that would make it ideal for most users who need to transport cargo or other large bulk items.

The airport also may use some of the vacant land for its own operations, including storage for materials for the $2.15 billion south terminal project, which is underway and slated to be done by 2020. However, one type of development that’s not on the radar is any residential type of project, such as or apartments, as the goal is to use the land to enhance airport operations.

This move coincides with the airport’s already massive growth plans that include more than $3 billion in new development and upgrades. The airport welcomes more than 44 million passengers and counting each year, thanks to Orlando’s $60 billion tourism industry that continues to invest in new attractions, hotels, and other offerings. Central Florida draws 68 million-plus tourists to the region each year.

Lake Nona City Park Details – East Airfield and Laureate City Parks

News » Features » Lake Nona City Park Details – East Airfield and Laureate City Parks






Two new parks are breaking ground in Lake Nona on Thursday, September 7th, 2017. Laureate City Park and East Airfield City Park will both be completed in 2018 and provide Lake Nona residents great options for fun, exercise, and relaxation. We’ll have more details after the groundbreaking ceremony.

Mayor Buddy Dyer and District 1 Commissioner Jim Gray will join with Development Company leaders and community members for the official groundbreaking ceremony for two new city parks in the City of Orlando’s fastest growing community, Tavistock’s Lake Nona. Both parks are planned to open in Summer 2018.

In the northern portion of Lake Nona along Dowden Road and nearby Lake Nona’s Northlake Park neighborhood, East Airfield Park will include four ball fields; a softball field, Babe Ruth/Pony field and two Little League fields with spectator bleachers, a scoreboard and lighting for evening games. In addition, a central pavilion will provide a shaded concession area and restrooms. The park will also include a playground and trails that link you to Lake Nona’s 44-mile trail system.

Further to the south within Lake Nona’s neighborhood, Laureate City Park will include four multi-purpose fields, a practice area, fitness station, playground and pavilion, concession building, and trails along with ample parking. Laureate City Park will be located at the intersection of Hartwell Road and Kellogg Avenue – within walking distance of the new OCPS Laureate Park Elementary School.

Margaritaville Resort Orlando has paradise under construction


Paradise isn’t built in a day, but Margaritaville Resort Orlando is trying to get it done by this summer.

The $750 million, a 300-acre resort in Osceola County has under a 180-room Margaritaville hotel, 1,000 resort vacation cottages, 300 timeshare units and a 12-acre, multimillion-dollar water park. As such, the resort held a behind-the-scenes construction tour of the property with media on March 26 that showed the latest work.

Primarily, the resort’s 1,000-plus vacation cottages are well underway on construction with the first 25 units set to be ready by July. The next 25 units, which will be built in 25 increments, will begin construction immediately at the completion of the previous 25 cottages.

“We have 25 railed up and you will see those coming up shortly. The concept is that we have six different islands or villages of about 200 each. We are trying to have every home be unique with no duplicates,” Jim Bagley, managing director of project developer Encore Capital Management, told  Journal, noting that the resort will have at least 300 homes finished every year.

Also, underway is the new Margaritaville hotel, which has two wings of about 90 rooms apiece. The hotel’s drywall is being installed on the western wing of the hotel with plans for those rooms to be completed by December. The hotel’s east wing currently is installing exterior framing and is running about 30 days behind the west wing, but Bagley said both of the hotel’s wings should be done at the same time for the late holiday season.

Amenities at the hotel include s 5,000-square-foot kids’ club and fitness center, a 2,500-square-foot food and beverage outlet and a 10,000-square-foot, zero-entry beach lagoon that will open by July.

“Right now the building shells and ironworks are being built on those amenities. We are also in good shape for the first pools. We expect to have 5,000 renters here on the weekend and we need to have pools to accommodate that, so the amenities will be able to accommodate 1,000 people apiece,” Bagley added.

As for the 200,000-square-foot retail center, space is filling up as tenants keep singing on. Tenants include Studio Movie Grill, GameTime, a Rascal Flatts restaurant, a KISS Rock & Brews, Skechers, Bahama Bucks Original Shaved Ice Co., Avalon Day Spa, Café Rio, Cold Stone Creamery, Paradise Spirits & Wine and BurgerFi.

Margaritaville Resort Orlando is expected to radically transform Kissimmee’s iconic U.S. Highway 192 tourist corridor when it opens later this year. The resort will boost Central ‘s lodging and activities and should spur more capital investment here. Orlando’s $60 billion tourism industry — the region’s main economic engine — draws 68 million visitors annually.

Airport exec shares more on Brightline’s timeline, plans



All Aboard Florida’s -to-Miami Brightline passenger train is making progress with the Orlando International Airport portion of its route.

The $3.5 billion Brightline train will soon be moving into the airport’s Intermodal Terminal Facility where it, along with SunRail and an undetermined light rail, will be housed.

Stan Thornton, Greater Orlando Aviation Authority COO, said the crew will be moving in as early as next week. “They are going to start setting up in their office in the Intermodal Terminal Facility that they’ve been constructing out. Planning and engineering officers are going to be down in there,” said Thornton.

Thornton added that with the latest conversations between the airport and Brightline officials, it looks like they will be ready to start on the property in June/July where there will be physical construction on the airport’s property. “What they’ve told us is that from the time they actually start, they have a 30-month construction schedule to get that done,” Thornton said.

The timeline sets it up for Orlando’s leg to be operational by the end of 2020 or the beginning of 2021. But there’s still a lot of work to do before then.

“They have a lot of work to do for mass grading. They are going to be coming down from State Road 528, and they are going to be coming to our property from past Narcoossee Road through Lake Nona. They start to come on the property on the northern edge underneath Goldenrod Road. All of that has to be mass graded,” Thornton said.

The only part of the route that hasn’t been built out to have rail go underneath it is the Cargo Road interchange with the Jeff Fuqua Boulevard exit to the north. Thornton said there will be a reconstruction of those bridges and ramps in that area so that they can get the train underneath there and continue down underneath the north cross-field taxiway. Plus, there will be a need to fill in the ponds.

The Intermodal Terminal Facility itself is already prepared for Brightline.

However, the first goal of Brightline will be to get its 70-acre Vehicle Maintenance Facility built on Orlando International Airport property. Once that’s up, Brightline can assemble all its locomotives and cars, and work the rail line route back to South Florida.

The entire Brightline route will cover 235 miles.

The train started operations in January connecting from West Palm Beach to Fort Lauderdale.

For a look inside the Brightline train, check out sister paper South Florida Journal‘s gallery.

Hospital CEO shares why Lake Nona foothold is big part of its long-term plan



Hospital has been trying to grow its Lake Nona presence for quite some time — and now, its top executive revealed a little more about that strategy.

Florida Hospital President CEO Daryl Tol, who also serves as senior executive vice president of parent Adventist Health System, talked to  Journal about plans for 80-plus acres of land it owns in the fast-growing southeast Orlando community.

And moving quickly on these plans likely will be important for the hospital system, since it no longer is in the running to take over the assets of the 175,000-square-foot Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute in Lake Nona’s 650-acre Medical City.

Rather, the hospital system is more focused on what it will do with the vacant land it owns in the area.

is an important part of our long-term plan,” Tol said. “We do not have a final plan as to what we will build build but we know that community is going to grow significantly, and it’s going to be important in in our network to have our services there.”

Florida Hospital likely will start with physicians and outpatient services, move on to emergency services and eventually hospitals as the population grows, Tol said.

Adventist Health System/Sunbelt began assembling a big chunk of land in Lake Nona with a 67.24-acre site it purchased in 2016, and then followed that up late last year with another roughly 15 acres on Narcoossee Road on the north and south sides of Lake Nona Boulevard — the latter of which it bought from Lake Nona’s developer, Group, as previously reported by OBJ.

The site is approved for up to 145,000 square feet of medical offices, a freestanding emergency department, an outpatient surgery center, and health and wellness services such as chiropractic services, general physical therapy and rehabilitation services, according to Orange County documents.

“We plan many years out into the future and we look across our entire map and we realized that even before areas have grown to a point where we would build certain services we need to make sure we have a good plan for acquiring property,” Tol told OBJ. “We are very systematic in the way purchase land. Sometime we hold it for a number of years as communities grow and sometimes we build something immediately on the land.

“So you’re going to see us continue to acquire properties around Central Florida based on our longterm plan.”

In fact, Florida Hospital’s parent since last December bought more than 120 acres in Central Florida for future development.

But the 17-square-mile Lake Nona community is a priority for many big companies and organizations. Lake Nona notched the No. 15 spot among the nation’s top-selling master-planned communities with 523 home sales in 2017, John Burns Real Estate Consulting reported. Additionally, the community already boasts more than 11,000 residents, 5,000 employees, plenty of new activity in the 300-acre Sports & Performance District, and more than 11,000 students at its schools.

Florida Hospital earlier this year was competing with the University of Central Florida to win the assets of Sanford Burnham, which expects to wind down operations. But the hospital system withdrew its proposal after it was publicly revealed that Florida Hospital had an agreement with Sanford Burnham that was unbeknownst to Orange County officials and other stakeholders.