Florida Citrus Sports is asking Orange County for an additional $1 million in tourist tax dollars to support the 2018 NFL Pro Bowl game at Camping World Stadium.
The not-for-profit organization that operates Camping World Stadium was the key player last year in a whirl-wind effort to convince the NFL to move its end-of-the-year all star game from the long-time host city of Honolulu to Orlando for at least two years, probably at least three, and possibly longer.
To make the deal happen last year Orange County approved $1 million in tourist tax money each year to be used for incentives, and also provided another $350,000 that had previously been programmed for something else. The deal, struck in a hurry in the spring of 2016, also called for another $1 million this year, and another $1 million set aside for next year, assuming that Florida Citrus Sports and the NFL exercise the third-year option on their agreement.
But the price has gone up to a $2 million tourist tax ask for the 2018 Pro Bowl. That should have been expected, said Florida Citrus Sports CEO Steve Hogan.
“Last year I acknowledged that year two, I wouldn’t actually know what to ask for until we got to year two,” Hogan said. “The factors that are forcing an increase are, [first,] the rights fee to the NFL increased for year two; second, the [Kickoff Classic] dollars, as you know tourism development tax already had a placeholder for kickoff dollars that we were able to use for year one, which we can’t us for year two, because that’ll be used for the Louisville-Alabama game to open the season.”
It was $350,000 that was programmed for the 2017 Pro Bowl above the $1 million the county had committed earlier.
On Sept. 29 the Orange County Tourist Development Council unanimously voted to back the request for the additional $1 million request for the 2018 game, even though there was no explanation provided about what the additional money was for. There also were no questions and no debate at the council’s meeting before the recommendation was approved.
At the Sept. 29 TDC meeting, Hogan reviewed the successes of the 2017 game, noting that it had an economic impact of $40-45 million for the Central Florida economy, and that an estimated 70 percent of the attendees came from outside the region. He also noted the game itself was a sell-out and had higher-than-expected ratings for ESPN.
“I can tell you by every estimate we knocked it out of the park,” Hogan told the council.