Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs joined community leaders and Central Floridians at the dedication ceremony to officially reopen the iconic Orlando Citrus Bowl.
In less than 10 months, the reconstruction project replaced 90 percent of the stadium with brand new construction, creating an improved fan experience and utilizing the latest technology in the region’s largest stadium venue. There are now 65,000 seats available for fans and three large state-of-the-art video scoreboard displays.
“What a great achievement this is for our entire community, and what an impact this great stadium will have on our economy and reputation,” Mayor Jacobs said. “From college, NFL and bowl games to special events, we will now be able to host families and athletes from around the world in a world-class sports venue.”
Orange County District 1 Commissioner Scott Boyd, Orange County District 2 Commissioner-elect Bryan Nelson, City of Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer, City of Orlando Commissioners, Orange County Comptroller Martha Haynie, Orange County Clerk of Courts Tiffany Moore Russell, and representatives from Florida Citrus Sports, Visit Orlando, the Central Florida Sports Commission and the Central Florida Hotel & Lodging Association joined in the official ribbon cutting ceremony on the entrance steps of the region’s state-of-the-art stadium.
The Orlando Citrus Bowl continues in its tradition of hosting signature events, including the annual Florida Blue Florida Classic, Buffalo Wild Wings Citrus Bowl and Russell Athletic Bowl. In addition to these events, the stadium will draw more high-profile events like NFL preseason matchups, spectacular concerts and more.
The annual Florida Blue Florida Classic will be the first event hosted in the newly-reconstructed stadium on November 22, when the nation's largest HBCU rivalry returns to Orlando. The Florida A&M University Rattlers will take on the Bethune-Cookman University Wildcats for the 69th time and the 35th time as part of the Florida Blue Florida Classic.
At the dedication ceremony, Mayor Jacobs also announced the Rebels and Seminoles will open the 2016 season at the Citrus Bowl as part of the first annual "Orlando Kickoff Game." The neutral-site season opening game between Florida State University and The University of Mississippi will be played on Labor Day, Monday, Sept. 5, 2016, and will be televised nationally by ESPN.
“We're excited to bring regular season neutral-site college football games back to the Citrus Bowl and establish Orlando as a major kickoff destination for the future,” Florida Citrus Sports CEO Steve Hogan said in a statement. “Florida State and Ole Miss will undoubtedly be a game worthy of national attention and we can't wait to welcome fans from Tallahassee and Oxford to Central Florida to start the 2016 season.”
Since being constructed in 1936, the Citrus Bowl has hosted numerous outstanding athletic events, including World Cup Soccer, Florida High School Athletic Association events, and many high-profile college and bowl games, as well as star-studded performances from iconic bands, such as the Rolling Stones, Aerosmith, and the Eagles. The stadium has welcomed families from all over the world and has created unforgettable experiences for many individuals, both locally and internationally.
Orange County has been a long-time supporter of the Citrus Bowl’s reconstruction. In 2013, the Orange County Board of County Commissioners voted in favor of using Tourist Development Tax funds for the Citrus Bowl reconstruction as part of a $94.5 million venues package to transform Orange County into a mecca of economic, cultural, and sports opportunities to support the region’s increasingly diverse and creative population for generations to come.
A collection of photos from the ribbon cutting can be found on Flickr for use by the media.