Orlando recently hosted the US Olympic Marathon trials and its sports authorities are keen to build up the Florida city’s profile as a host for sporting events and the commercial partners these tournaments draw in.

Later this decade, the eyes of the sports world will be glued to the US when the country will co-host the 2026 FIFA World Cup and its third largest city, Los Angeles, will host the 2028 Summer Olympics.

Florida’s largest city, Miami, has been chosen as one of the locations of the former tournament. Jason Siegel, President and CEO of the Greater Orlando Sports Commission, spoke to Insider Sport about Orlando’s potential to do the same. 

Insider Sport: Which international tournaments is Orlando most ideally suited to hosting in your view, and why?

Jason Siegel: We are proud to maintain strong partnerships and close collaborations with local government stakeholders here in Orlando to continue bringing world-class sporting events to our region.

Orlando has hosted a wide range of events, from Premier League matchups to the Special Olympics USA Games to, most recently, the US Olympic Team Trials – Marathon.

We feel like we are well-equipped to host a variety of sporting experiences. Whether that be youth/amateur, Olympic, collegiate, international, or esports, we feel prepared to deliver an exceptional event.

Insider Sport: Why did the city bid to host the US Olympic Trials for Marathon? How much visibility for the city’s sporting infrastructure has this brought?

Siegel: This event was very much in line with our strategic plan. Olympic events always bring a particular level of excitement and give fans the opportunity to cheer on our nation’s best athletes as they prepare for the biggest stage there is: the Olympic Games. 

We were proud to play a part in helping elevate the sport and create a thrilling environment for constituents, athletes, fans, officials, and all involved.

The broadcast exposure on NBC was also very appealing to us, and we feel that we showcased Orlando in the best possible way to a significant audience of 760,000 viewers, which does not even include the streaming numbers from Peacock and significant social media engagement.

Insider Sport: What specific advantages did Orlando offer as a host city for the US Olympic Trials for Marathon compared to other potential locations?

Siegel: Orlando has a proven track record of hosting elite events, and we boast an experienced local organising committee and collaborative community spirit that is best-in-class and continuously delivers successful events.

Our tourism ecosystem is a well-oiled machine where all stakeholders, including hoteliers, restaurateurs, elected officials, transportation providers and attraction operators all work together seamlessly. 

Above all else, our community’s hospitality and excitement for major events are unparalleled. The fans came out in full force to cheer on the Marathon runners, with several athletes praising the enthusiasm of the crowds throughout the course.

Orlando City SC, MLS – Credit: JHVEPhoto, Shutterstock

Insider Sport: With Florida one of the host states for the 2026 World Cup, how can Orlando leverage this to showcase its sports hosting capabilities?

We’re so excited for the World Cup to come to the state of Florida and plan to leverage the event in any way we can, whether that be base camp opportunities or watch parties; we want to make the entire state of Florida welcoming for soccer players and fans from all over the world and create an unforgettable experience for them.

The new Brightline high-speed rail service, running between South Florida and Orlando International Airport, is a real game changer for sports tourism opportunities between Orlando and Miami. The speedy and reliable trains will not only reduce travel time for fans during the 2026 World Cup but will also open the doors to host more major sporting events in both cities.

Insider Sport: What commercial opportunities for Orlando businesses can hosting such major tournaments bring?

Siegel: The initial economic impact we’ve seen so far from the Marathon Trials has been overwhelmingly positive. Downtown business owners praised the Trials for bringing in customers, and we saw a significant increase in tourism income during a traditionally non-peak travel season. 

We look forward to continuing to bring commercial opportunities from major events to our local businesses and boost the tourism economy to truly benefit the entire community of Orlando.

Insider Sport: How much appetite is there for soccer in Orlando and how large is the local commercial opportunity in this sport?

Siegel: There is a massive appetite for soccer here. Our MLS club, Orlando City, and NWSL club, Orlando Pride, maintain loyal followings of passionate fans. 

As mentioned, we have also hosted several exciting soccer matches, including the Florida Cup friendly face-off between Juventus and Real Madrid and Premier League rivals Arsenal and Chelsea, two of the world’s most popular and successful professional soccer clubs.

We’re incredibly excited to be hosting Copa America matches on 29 June and 1 July , which our team and community could not be more excited for, and a just-announced friendly match between the US Men’s National Team and Brazilian National Team on 12 June. 

As we look ahead to the future and multiple opportunities to partner with FIFA, including the 2025 Club World Cup, Women’s World Cup, and base camp opportunities for the 2026 World Cup, as well as partnering with the USOPC on Olympic soccer prior to the LA28 Summer Olympics, we could not be more excited to collaborate with our tourism and venue partners and sports stakeholders to bring world class events to Orlando. 

Orlando is committed to investing in future opportunities with CONCACAF and CONMEBOL and continuing this already strong partnership.

Credit: Greater Orlando Sports Commission

Insider Sport: Why should sports stakeholders, such as media and data rights holders, pay attention to Orlando’s hosting ambitions?

Siegel: We deliver on our promises to deliver an exceptional event that drives desired net revenue back to the rightsholder. In addition to revenue generation, Orlando offers collaboration and engagement, a proven tourism ecosystem and phenomenal hospitality.

Insider Sport: What is your long-term vision for Orlando as a future hub for sports tournaments and the wider commercial ecosystem of these contests?

Siegel: Our vision is to be the hub for sports tournaments and events. We want to be the ideal destination in the US for a wide range of sporting events and continue to build our proven track record of world-class hosting. 

From elite venues and facilities to entertainment powerhouses of Disney and Universal right here in town, along with over 200,000 hotel rooms, timeshares, and vacation rentals, Orlando has what it takes to become the premier host city destination in the US.

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