ORLANDO, FL (FNN News) – November 19, 2015 marks the first anniversary since the newly-reconstructed Orlando Citrus Bowl opened its gates and welcomed the Central Florida community to a completely modernized stadium. Since November 19, 2014, the venue has hosted numerous sports and entertainment events including 22 soccer matches, 13 football games and two concerts. The action-packed year attracted 818,645 patrons and directly contributed to the successful rebirth of this historic facility.
Following the massive $207.7 million reconstruction that resulted in a 90 percent all-new stadium designed to enhance the fan experience; the Orlando Citrus Bowl has seen an unprecedented amount of activity. Between serving as the home to Orlando City SC’s inaugural Major League Soccer season, hosting a sold-out Monster Jam and welcoming the “World’s Greatest Rock ‘n’ Roll Band,” it’s been a banner year.
“Our Orlando Citrus Bowl is not only a world-class venue, attracting top-tier events and international recognition, it is also an iconic community gathering space providing our residents with unique experiences and new memories that will last a lifetime,” said Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer. “For nearly 80 years this historic facility has served as a community and economy builder for our region and I am proud that after the reconstruction, this legacy has not only continued, but has grown.”
In addition to Orlando City SC, the Orlando Citrus Bowl is the proud home to the Buffalo Wild Wings Citrus Bowl, Russell Athletic Bowl, AutoNation Cure Bowl (debuting December 19), Florida Blue Florida Classic, MEAC/SWAC Challenge and the Florida High School Athletic Association (FHSAA) Football State Championships. When the Orlando Pride, the newest member of the professional National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL), begin their inaugural season in April 2016, they too will call the stadium home.
“The success we’ve experienced over the last year continues to open new doors and lead to exciting opportunities,” said Orlando Venues Executive Director Allen Johnson. “Promoters have really taken notice and I’m pleased to say we are now equipped to host just about any large-scale concert or sporting event.”
Just three days after the grand opening, the stadium hosted the annual Florida Blue Florida Classic, the historic football rivalry between Florida A&M University and Bethune-Cookman University, on November 22. From December 5 – 13, the FHSAA held eight state championship football games. On December 29, the 25th anniversary of the Russell Athletic Bowl featured ACC’s Clemson Tigers against Big 12’s Oklahoma Sooners and on January 1, 2015, the Buffalo Wild Wings Citrus Bowl featured SEC’s Missouri against Big Ten’s Minnesota. The 11th MEAC/SWAC Challenge presented by Disney, held on September 6, showcased South Carolina State (MEAC) vs. University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff (SWAC).
“It is very rewarding to see the vision for a competitive stadium realized through a season of successful events,” said Florida Citrus Sports President Steve Hogan. “National exposure and economic impact are metrics the stadium has become known for in our community and after one season in the new facility the future looks extremely bright.”
The Orlando Citrus Bowl hosted Orlando City SC’s inaugural MLS season which included the opening match against New York City Football Club (NYC FC) on March 8 that set a stadium attendance record of 62,510 and became the 10th highest attended MLS game in the league’s 20-year history. Orlando City SC also hosted two friendly matches against Brazil’s Ponte Preta FC and England’s West Bromwich FC, one 2015 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup Round of 16 match against Columbus Crew SC and one international friendly featuring Mexico vs. Costa Rica, two of Central American and Caribbean Association Football’s (CONCACAF) best teams. On October 25, the U.S. Women’s National Team returned to the stadium as part of their 10-match victory tour to commemorate their 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup Championship with a 3-1 win over Brazil.
“The Orlando Citrus Bowl served as a great home for our inaugural year in Major League Soccer,” said Orlando City Founder and President Phil Rawlins. “From our #FilltheBowl campaign for the opening game, to hosting well over a half million fans throughout this incredible season, our passionate supporters enjoyed the thrilling energy of each home game at the reconstructed Citrus Bowl. We’re looking forward to the start of the 2016 season for the Lions, the debut of the Orlando Pride NWSL team and the return of The Wall!”
On June 12 before a capacity crowd, legendary British rockers, The Rolling Stones, presented an imposing spectacle like no other for the reborn stadium’s inaugural concert. They first played the stadium in 1981 and last played it in 1997 as part of their Bridge to Babylon tour. The Stones simply would not have returned to Orlando, their only stop in Florida on their 15-city ZIP Code Tour, unless there was a suitable venue to host them. Pop icon Katy Perry also played the stadium – albeit a private concert for Microsoft MGX Conference attendees – on July 24.
Highlights and venue records from the stadium’s solid inaugural season include:
In the weeks ahead the stadium will be filled with football fans and fanfare from the Florida Blue Florida Classic on November 21, FHSAA High School Football State Championships from December 4 – 12, AutoNation Cure Bowl on December 19, Russell Athletic Bowl onDecember 29 and the Buffalo Wild Wings Citrus Bowl on January 1, 2016. Monster Jam, the world’s largest live motorsport tour for monster trucks, returns on January 23. In April, the stadium will host the Florida State University spring football game as well as welcome the Orlando Pride as they kick off their inaugural NWSL season. In the fall, the inaugural Orlando Kick-Off, an annual neutral-site season-opening college football game, will take place between the Ole Miss Rebels and the FSU Seminoles.
ABOUT ORLANDO CITRUS BOWL
The Orlando Citrus Bowl is owned and operated by the City of Orlando. Since opening in 1936 as a Works Progress Administration project by President Franklin D. Roosevelt at a cost of $115,000 and a capacity of 8,900, the stadium has undergone numerous expansions and name changes over the years. The historic venue underwent a massive $207.7 million reconstruction in 2014 which yielded 90% all-new construction and a completely modernized stadium. The numerous enhancements and amenities include 41,000 lower bowl seats with chair backs, two 360-degree concourses, multiple giant video displays, a 20,000-square-foot plaza deck, a vibrant open-air exterior and unique indoor & outdoor club spaces to serve 5,000 patrons. These upgrades have bolstered the Orlando Citrus Bowl’s ability to draw new high-profile events like neutral-site college football games, NFL pre-season match-ups and big-name concerts while retaining its signature annual bowl games and events. The City of Orlando and its partners at Florida Citrus Sports expect the recent reconstruction to generate a $300 million annual economic impact. More information at OrlandoCitrusBowl.com.
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