On the heels of Tuesday’s announcement that the Super Bowl will comeback to Tampa in 2021, the NFL announced Wednesday morning that the Pro Bowl will again be played in Orlando and Camping World Stadium in 2018.
And, it’s yet another example of the momentum that the Sunshine State has been building and benefiting from over the course of the past few years. Not just in the NFL, but with big time college football games, as well.
Tampa Bay just hosted the 2017 College Football Playoff Championship Game in January, showcasing the jewel area of West Central Florida for the nation. And with rave reviews from every direction, appears to be in line to be in short rotation of that title game for decades to come.
Meanwhile, down in South Florida, the modernization of Hard Rock Stadium over the course of the last two years, has not only made Miami a serious player for future Super Bowls, but also for that CFP title game short rotation, too. Obviously, Hard Rock already hosts the Orange Bowl on/around New Years Day, as well as Dolphin and Hurricane home games.
The Super Bowl was last in Miami in Janaury 2010, where the Saints rallied to stun Peyton Manning and the Colts. Also, the former “Bowl Championship Series” (replaced by the CFP) played it’s much anticipated Alabama/Notre Dame title game at Hard Rock in January 2013.
Those are the last two times the “biggest” of football events were in Miami, but with the lure of iconic Miami and all that South Florida has to offer, you have to believe both will be back and maybe, soon.
Finally, Wednesday’s news is another nod to Central Florida and revamping of what was the Citrus Bowl Stadium into Camping World Stadium. Their modernization, including going to a field turf playing surface instead of natural grass, has made Orlando a bigger player for bigger games, also.
In addition to hosting the Pro Bowl last year, it also is home to the New Year’s Day game, which is currently the “Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl” and, typically, features the runners up of the SEC and Big Ten Football conferences. Camping World Stadium also usually hosts two other bowl games, as well, during December. Also, the Dolphins played a preseason game with the Bengals in the upgraded stadium a year ago, too.
Could Orlando get into the bidding for at least the CFP title game? Possibly. However, Tampa and Miami obviously have a huge head start on that front. And the Super Bowl would be a long shot, too.
However, the NFL could potentially make Orlando either the full home or on short rotation of the Pro Bowl locations, when the game is played every year the week before the Super Bowl.
The fact that they put the game back in Central Florida for the second straight year is clear indication of that thinking.
And it’s clear the state of Florida’s involvement in football’s biggest games grows.