Championship Moves
Orlando Magazine|February 2017

Capturing the Pro Bowl, a college basketball tourney, a national tennis center and more, Orlando is primed for a big year in sports.

Megan Padilla

ACCORDING TO THE CHINESE ZODIAC, 2017 is the Year of the Rooster. Certainly in one area, Orlando has plenty to crow about.

A Call it e Year of Sports in e City Beautiful. From landing the NFL Pro Bowl and two opening rounds of the men’s college basketball championship to the debut of a new soccer stadium and the opening of the new national headquarters for U.S. tennis, the stars have truly aligned for Central Florida.

Key to the sports explosion was the 2014 refurbishment of the Citrus Bowl, now known as Camping World Stadium. at $207 million overhaul got the attention of the NFL, which awarded the Pro Bowl to Orlando, moving the star-studded event from Hawaii, where it has been played for all but two games since 1980. e stadium also hosted last fall’s season-opening game between Florida State and Ole Miss, as well as an NFL preseason matchup between the Atlanta Falcons and Miami Dolphins.

Also critical to Orlando’s success, say tourism officials, is that the area always has been able to step up with world-class venues and a multitude of hotel rooms to handle visitors on short notice. It did so when the Atlantic Coast Conference decided in September to move its football championship game out of North Carolina because of the state’s controversial transgender restroom law. Waiting to snap up the game: Orlando and Camping World Stadium, where the contest between Clemson and Virginia Tech was played in early December.

As Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer notes: “When you bring in 66 million visitors a year, you have the experience to handle big events.”

With the event calendar swelling for 2017, fans can rejoice. Wrestle Mania 33 will feature a week of events throughout Orlando, including a free fan festival at the convention center, culminating with the April 2 main event at “the campground,” the nickname for Camping World Stadium. Residents will also have a chance to see some of the world’s top soccer clubs play as part of the International Champions Cup, which recently announced its marketing partnership with Visit Orlando for the worldwide summer soccer tournament that secures a premiere match to be played in Orlando in both 2017 and 2018.

Sweetening the pot, the ribbon-cutting at both the new soccer stadium in downtown Orlando and the 100-court United States Tennis Association’s national campus at Lake Nona add hundreds of sports events. Even non sports enthusiasts can’t help but notice that the world’s best athletes and the fans who adore them are showing up in our backyard.

Add to all this the NBA’s Orlando Magic and hockey’s Solar Bears and there’s no shortage of action for ravenous sports fans:

INTERCEPTION!

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