ORLANDO, Fla. — Joseph Burns, Jr. shuffled through the Amway Center’s concourse, documents in hand and wondering how two years had seemingly flown by.
It was Burns’ first time inside the building since he lost his job in the spring of 2020. The security worker enjoyed the once or twice per week shifts, helping live events and concerts. He especially enjoyed the extra five- or six-hours’ worth of pay.
He was looking to get that back.
“For my dream fund,” he said. “Learning buy stocks, options. That’s where my passion really is.”
Orlando’s major event venues are back in hiring mode as they prepare for a full slate of events in 2022. Amway Center alone has more than 50 non-recurring events on the books this year, as opposed to the usual 35 to 40.
Down the road, Camping World Stadium has five concerts planned, with the possibility of more. Typically, the venue has two or fewer.
“One thing that we all learned during the pandemic, especially the shutdown period, is there’s nothing like a live event,” Orlando Chief Venues Officer Allen Johnson said, adding that the largest events require upwards of two thousand workers to pull off.
The live events business was one of the last to make a comeback after the pandemic, with people still nervous about large crowds and many places banning them altogether. The virus and global shutdown cost 96% of planners their business, according to events marketing platform PurplePass, a major hit for a $1.1 trillion dollar industry.
Orlando is trying to get a bigger slice of that pie. Johnson credited Electric Daisy Carnival 2021 – a major dance music festival held at Camping World every November – for that month’s record tourism numbers. Tourism development tax dollars generated from events and conferences often pay for major infrastructure projects that the growing region sorely needs.
They also help people like Burns through either full-time work and putting food on the table, or part-time work to pay bills – or in Burns’ case – having a little extra money to play with.
“It’s more than what I’m not doing,” he said.
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