Orange County Convention Center reopening in July

The Orange County Convention Center on Thursday rolled out its plans to reopen, as it prepares to host its first mass gathering, a month from now.

“We’re climbing out of that hole we were in,” said Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings.

Thirty-two conventions were canceled due to coronavirus pandemic, with an economic loss estimated at $734 million. Mayor Demings said the Convention Center is on its way back.

“We’re going to prepare ourselves to be in the front of the line for new business opportunities as we climb out from under this pandemic that we’re in. I’m highly excited and motivated to get us back going and that’s what we’re doing,” said Demings.

The first event, post-pandemic event is scheduled for July, during which 10,000 people are planning to attend the Amateur Athletic Union National Volleyball Championship. The tournament will not have spectators and the courts will be spaced out to promote social distancing.

Capacity for all spaces at the venue will be limited and 50% and conferences are exploring other ways of dividing crowds.

“Running sessions twice, one in the morning and one in the afternoon, so that you can go on the exhibit floor in the morning and then going to the educational sessions in the afternoon. They’re looking at wider aisles on the exhibit floor, looking at one-way aisles,” said Mark Tester, executive director of the Convention Center.

The facility has deployed hand sanitizer stations, physical distancing markers on the floor, and healthy practice signage throughout the venue. Cleaning is more frequent, they’re even using a UV light disinfector.

“That disinfects 99.8%t of everything it comes into its path,” said Tester.

Because the pressure is on the facility to get it right.

“You’re only as good as your last event, and so you have to provide great customer service, great facilities, and certainly cleanliness,” said Tester.

Demings is confident the venue can deliver.

“Reputation is everything. We’re will likely see other convention centers follow when they see the things that we’re doing,” said Demings.

The reopening of the Convention Center is good news for hotels and restaurants along International Drive, which rely heavily on conference business.

The volleyball tournament is set for July 14.