NFL Pro Bowl coming to Orlando as city bags big-time games


Despite being sandwiched between two of Florida’s three NFL cities, Orlando is earning a reputation of becoming Football Town USA.

 While other cities also spend millions on stadium renovations, Florida Citrus Sports (FCS) has been able to capitalize on upgrades, a new stadium name and keen marketing insight to go along with the allure of Orlando as a football destination.

 Camping World is the new title sponsor of Orlando’s football stadium and the high-profile upcoming college football kickoff game series, beginning with Florida State and Ole Miss on Sept. 5 and the next NFL Pro Bowl.

 This goes along with not one, but three, post-season bowl games, an annual game between two historically black universities since 1976 and the first NFL pre-season game since 1996.

 “We have absolutely seen support in the community with Camping World Stadium's new look and functionality,” said FCS Director of Communications Greg Creese. “Orlando has reaped the benefits of reconstruction in the form of new events – from agreeing to bring the NFL’s Pro Bowl and a preseason Dolphins game, to big time concerts like the Rolling Stones and Guns ’N Roses… in addition to the annual bowl games, MLS soccer games and the other events that have been on the calendar.”

 As far as what sets Orlando apart, there are a number of things.

“Orlando is arguably the premier convention city in the country, and with that comes a ton of hotel rooms at all levels of luxury and affordability,” added Creese. “We have premium dining and entertainment options and an airport that can handle as much traffic efficiently as virtually any in the world.”

 The stadium underwent a $207.7 million reconstruction in 2014, re-opening as a state-of-the art venue ready to host world class events. Fans have raved about the amenities at the new stadium, which include wider aisles and chair-back seats with more legroom in an all-new lower bowl. Club spaces, loge boxes and a 20,000-square-foot deck highlight a new plaza level that circles the entire stadium.

 Florida Citrus Sports also hosted Florida State football’s 2016 Spring Game. Besides American football, Orlando City Soccer MLS and the Orlando Pride NWSL teams are playing their 2016 seasons in the stadium. And in April 2017, Camping World Stadium will become the first stadium in the country to host WWE Wrestlemania for a second time.

 “For residents of Florida, Orlando is a hub that is located almost dead-center of the state, so it is more accessible for those driving than most cities,” Creese said. “We have long felt that a revitalized stadium was the missing puzzle piece for our community and that is how things have worked out.”

The qualifications for being named Football Town USA are impressive:

The Florida State Seminoles will play the Ole Miss Rebels on Labor Day. The neutral-site, season-opening game will be televised nationally by ESPN as the first of three annual Orlando Kickoff games.

The Pro Bowl is coming to Orlando in 2017 and will feature a return to the traditional AFC vs. NFC game format.

The 2016 Russell Athletic Bowl will be played Dec. 28 featuring the top post-College Football Playoff selection from the ACC, including the possibility of Notre Dame, and the second post-CFP pick in the Big 12

The Buffalo Wild Wings Citrus Bowl will be played Dec. 31. The game will serve as the lead-in game for the College Football Playoff Semifinals later that day. The Buffalo Wild Wings Citrus Bowl, the nation’s seventh-longest running postseason bowl, will host its 71st game on New Year’s Eve.

  The Florida Classic is now the largest football game between two historically Black Colleges in America, surpassing the Bayou Classic between Grambling and Southern in New Orleans as the top attended game in NCAA Division I-AA as well as the nation’s largest football game between two Historically Black College/University (HBCU) schools.

  “We’re proud to integrate Camping World, a brand that is the leader in its industry, with all that we continue to do at Camping World Stadium to grow economic impact and improve the quality of life for Central Floridians,” said Steve Hogan, CEO of FCSports. “The commitment to both the stadium and the Camping World Kickoff series will ensure that together we deliver on our promises to this community for years to come, and build on the rich heritage of this venue.”