Sports Commission wants to bring 18 major events to central Florida

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ORLANDO, Fla. - Channel 9 obtained a new list of sporting events the Central Florida Sports Commission is hoping to bring to Orange County in hopes of huge economic gain.

The list includes major events like the NCAA college basketball tournament and World Wrestling Entertainment's Wrestlemania and Royal Rumble.

But Channel 9's Racquel Asa found none of the events will happen unless the county is willing to make a small investment to get the games going.

Five years ago in March 2008, fans packed the Citrus Bowl for Wrestlemania. Now, the CFSC wants to bring it back, plus more than a dozen other events between now and 2019.

"The sports landscape is extremely competitive," said John Bisignano Jr., president of CFSC. "There are 300 cities that do exactly what we do on a day-to-day basis."

Channel 9 found Mayor Teresa Jacobs wants give the sports commission up to $137,000 for almost every event they bring to the county, which means the county could end up contributing $1.3 million to make the events happen.

Bisignano said without the money, there's no way the sports commission would be able to bring in the events.

"There's other ways to do it, but you would have to go to businesses," he said.

When championship games come to the county and use the Amway Center or other convention centers, the sports commission said the organizations want to be able to use the facilities for free.

"(If they had to pay), they won't come. It's that simple," said Bisignano.

Even by letting the event organizers use the facilities for free, the county could stand to make $200 million in economic incentives if the events happen in central Florida, Asa said.

The $1 million the sports commission needs would come out of the tourist development tax fund.

Two weeks ago, Channel 9 reported the county collected $16 million from hotels and motels in April.