Camping World Stadium, also known as the Orlando Citrus Bowl, is a stadium located in Orlando, Florida. The stadium is located in the West Lakes neighborhoods of Downtown Orlando, west of new sports and entertainment facilities including the Amway Center, the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts and the Orlando City Stadium. It opened in 1936 as Orlando Stadium and has also been known as the Tangerine Bowl and Florida Citrus Bowl.
The stadium is the current home venue of the Buffalo Wild Wings Citrus Bowl and the Russell Athletic Bowl. It is also the regular host of other college football games including the Florida Classic between Florida A&M and Bethune-Cookman, the MEAC/SWAC Challenge, and the Camping World Kickoff. The stadium was built for football and in the past, it has served as home of several alternate-league American football teams. From 2011 to 2013, it was also the home of the Orlando City SC, a soccer team in USL Pro. From 1979 to 2006, it served as the home of the UCF Knights football team. It was also one of the nine venues used for the 1994 FIFA World Cup. The stadium is one of the few city owned venues in America. The City of Orlando owns and operates the stadium along with multiple arts and cultural facilities.
Construction on the stadium began in 1936 as a project of the Works Progress Administration under President Franklin D. Rooseveltduring the Great Depression. The stadium was built to the immediate east of the baseball park Tinker Field, which opened in 1914. The stadium opened later in 1936 with a capacity of 8,900 as Orlando Stadium. The first college football bowl game was played on January 1, 1947. Catawba defeated Maryville 31–6 in the inaugural Tangerine Bowl. 2,000 seats were added in 1952. During this period, the stadium was known as the Tangerine Bowl. 5,000 more seats were added in 1968, along with the first press box. From 1974–76 the capacity was raised to 52,000. A capacity of 65,438 was established in 1989, after a $30 million renovation that added the upper decks. In 1983, the Florida Department of Citrus was added as a title sponsor for the facility, at a price of $250,000. From 1999 to 2002, key stadium improvements included the addition of contour seating, two escalators, and a new 107-foot (33 m) wide scoreboard/video screen. A new sound system, along with two full-color ribbon displays along the upper decks, were also added. The expansion resulted in the upper deck overhanging Tinker Field’s right field area, albeit at a significant height.
Camping World Stadium has been home field to several short-lived professional football teams. In 1974, the Florida Blazers of the World Football League played their only season in existence at the Tangerine Bowl. The USFL’s Orlando Renegades played one season in 1985. The Orlando Thunder of the WLAF called the Citrus Bowl home in their two-season existence during the early 1990s, while the XFL’s Orlando Rage played there in 2001 as well as the UFL’s Florida Tuskers, occupying the stadium for 2 seasons from 2009, before moving to Virginia Beach as the Virginia Destroyers in 2011. The Orlando Fantasy of the Lingerie Football League moved to the stadium shortly after, having prior used the UCF Arena.
The Florida High School Athletic Association state football championships are held at Camping World Stadium.
Seven National Football League (NFL) preseason football games have been held at the stadium.
The varsity football team from nearby Jones High School used Camping World Stadium as a regular season home field for decades through the end of their 2011 season. The school started playing home football games on their own field beginning on August 31, 2012.
Rollins College, Winter Park, Florida, was the first college to use the then named Orlando Stadium as its home field. It played there prior to and after World War II.
It hosted the 2016 ACC Championship Game. It will host again in 2017.
The stadium hosted the NFL Pro Bowl in 2017, and will again in 2018.
The playing surface is large enough for use in international soccer matches, and it was a venue for the 1994 FIFA World Cup. In five matches, attendance averaged over 60,000 per match. In 1996, Olympic soccer matches in both the men’s and women’s competitions were held at the stadium.
It hosted the USISL A-League Orlando Sundogs in 1997. It also hosted the Major League Soccer All-Star Game in 1998. The stadium was the home of Orlando City SC, a soccer team in the USL Pro League. In 2013, the investment group that owned that club was awarded an expansion team in Major League Soccer. They spent their 2014 season in USL Pro at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Lake Buena Vista while Camping World Stadium was being renovated.
During the 2013 season, Fifth Third Bank owned naming rights to the field for Orlando City matches. Its name during those matches was Fifth Third Bank Field at the Citrus Bowl.
Orlando City played their final USL Pro match at Camping World Stadium on September 6, 2013. They won the USL Pro Championship over Charlotte Eagles, 7–4, before a crowd of 20,886. The last soccer event held at Camping World Stadium before its renovation was an international friendly between the women’s teams of the United States and Brazil. The U.S. won the match, 4–1, before a crowd of 20,274.
Orlando City, now playing in Major League Soccer, returned to Camping World Stadium for the 2015 and 2016 seasons.
The Orlando Pride, the 2016 expansion National Women’s Soccer League team owned by Orlando City SC, played in Camping World Stadium while the Orlando City Stadium was completed.
Camping World Stadium was one of the venues for Copa América Centenario in June 2016. Three group stage matches were held there, Paraguay vs Costa Rica on June 4, Bolivia vs Panama on June 6 and Brazil vs Haiti on June 8.
On April 14, 1979, the “Tangerine Bowl” hosted the Florida World Music Festival. The concert was commonly known as “Florrida Jam”, named after previous festivals in other states like California Jam and Texxas Jam. The spelling of Florida used two R’s like the Texxas Jam that used two X’s and preceded it. Acts included Aerosmith, Ted Nugent, Cheap Trick, Frank Marino & Mahogany Rush, Brownsville Station and Blackfoot. Ted Nugent joined Aerosmith on stage during their encore and played a couple of songs with the band.
It was also the only venue where Van Halen and The Rolling Stones played together live, which occurred in October 1981. It was part of the American Tour 1981.
The Who played in 1982 with Joan Jett & The Blackhearts and The B-52’s as the opening acts. The B-52’s were quickly booed off stage by the crowd. The more persistent Joan Jett & The Blackhearts played a full set.
On March 30, 2008, the Citrus Bowl held WWE’s WrestleMania XXIV. This was the first WrestleMania to be held in the state of Florida, and the second to be held outdoors. Nine professional wrestling matches were scheduled for the event, which featured a supercard of more than one main bout. At 74,635, it was the largest crowd, at the time, ever to attend an event at the venue.
WWE returned to Camping World Stadium to host WrestleMania 33, which took place on April 2, 2017. The WWE claimed an attendance record of 75,245, beating the venue’s previous attendance record which was set at WrestleMania XXIV.
The Citrus Bowl was the site of two Billy Graham Crusades, the most recent of which took place in 1983.
During the 1996 Summer Olympics, it hosted some of the football (soccer) preliminaries.
Drum Corps International has held its annual World Championships at the stadium four times in 1996, 1997, 1998, and 2003
The Feld Entertainment-promoted Monster Jam shows held there every year featured a track similar to the one at Sam Boyd Stadium in 2008 and 2009. The 2014 Monster Jam event on January 25 was the last event held at Camping World Stadium before its reconstruction began.
The Corporate 5K Orlando road race has been based at the stadium for several years.
The AMA Supercross Series holds an annual spring event.
The stadium hosted the Rock Super Bowl festivals during the late 1970s and early 1980s.
By 2005, Orlando-area government officials and officials from The University of Central Florida expressed dissatisfaction with the state of the facility and lack of revenue, as while UCF was the primary leasing tenant for the facility, it received minimal revenue from football games. Lack of an agreement to rectify these issues led UCF to consider relocating, or spend considerable expense to upgrade the facility at its own cost. In addition, the stadium’s capacity was seen as too large for UCF, leaving the stadium an appearance of being empty even with attendance of as much as 30,000–40,000 people per game. UCF’s all-time attendance record was 51,978 for the 2005 C-USA Championship Game versus Tulsa. Furthermore, the stadium was located over 10 miles (16 km) from the university’s main campus in East Orlando, with travel times of up to a half-hour due to traffic. In 2005, UCF officials led by university president John Hitt made the decision to construct a new on-campus stadium called Bright House Networks Stadium, which opened for the 2007 season.
Orlando officials began exploring stadium refurbishment project in 2004, when the Capital One Bowl bid to become a Bowl Championship Series (BCS) game, but was not chosen due to the stadium’s aging condition. Camping World Stadium also submitted a bid for the ACC Championship Game, but lost to Jacksonville Municipal Stadium. The key reasons for losing the bids are the lack of modern luxury boxes, bench seating, and capacity. The hopes for Camping World Stadium became reality when, on September 29, 2006, Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer announced an agreement on a $175-million renovation of Camping World Stadium. It is part of the “Triple Crown for Downtown”, a $1.1-billion plan to redo the Orlando Centroplex with a new $480-million arena for the Orlando Magic, a new $375-million performing arts center, and the Camping World Stadium improvements. Conceptual drawings for the possible improvements include enclosed concourses on the east and west sides of the stadium and additions to the north side that will finally complete the lower bowl. The Orlando/Orange County Interlocal Agreement was approved by the Orlando City Council on August 6, 2007. However, the plans were heavily affected by the Great Recession of 2007–08.
In 2010, the natural grass surface was replaced with AstroTurf Gameday Grass 3D after the 2009 Champs Sports Bowl and 2010 Capital One Bowl were marred by poor field conditions that led to two football player injuries. Stadium conditions once again prompted a review of the stadiums condition. Finally, it was announced in May 2013 that the Florida Citrus Bowl Stadium would undergo a reconstruction during 2014, at a cost of less than US$200 million. The cost estimate as of March 2014 was US$207 million. The stadium’s upper level seating were retained, but the entire lower bowl structure was demolished.
In the newly reconstructed stadium there are two 360-degree concourses, a 20,000-square-foot plaza deck (“Party Deck”) in the north end zone, 41,000 all-new lower bowl seats with six additional inches of leg room & chairbacks, multiple giant video displays, new team facilities including locker rooms training rooms and attached media, new stadium operations facilities to allow better efficiency in food service, security, first aid and maintenance, new concessions and restrooms, and a vibrant open-air façade. The new mezzanine is now referred to as the “Plaza level”. The upper deck, previously numbered the “300” level, is now numbered the “200” level.
The reconstruction began immediately following a groundbreaking event held at the stadium on January 29, 2014 and demolition of the entire lower bowl lasted 25 days. The first event at the renovated Camping World Stadium was the 2014 edition of the Florida Classic on November 22, 2014. The Bethune-Cookman Wildcats defeated the Florida A&M Rattlers, 18–17 in overtime.
Orlando City returned to the renovated Camping World Stadium for the 2015 season, their first season in Major League Soccer, while awaiting construction of their own soccer-specific stadium. In their first match, a 1–1 draw against fellow expansion side New York City FC on March 8, 2015, they drew a sellout crowd of 62,510, the largest attendance for a soccer match at the venue.
The United States women’s national soccer team returned to Camping World Stadium on October 25, 2015. They defeated Brazil again, 3–1. The attendance of 32,869 was the largest attendance for a standalone USWNT friendly in the state of Florida.
The Orlando Pride, the expansion National Women’s Soccer League team owned by Orlando City SC, will play in Camping World Stadium until the Orlando City Stadium is complete. On April 23, 2016, they broke the record for attendance at an NWSL game, setting at 23,403, when the Pride beat the Houston Dash, 3–1.
On November 19, 2015, CONCACAF and CONMEBOL announced that Camping World Stadium would be one of the host venues for the Copa América Centenario soccer tournament in 2016.
On April 26, 2016, Florida Citrus Sports announced that they had sold naming rights for the stadium to Camping World. Camping World would also be the presenting sponsor of the stadium’s college football kickoff series for at least its first four years, through 2019. The naming rights deal does not affect the naming of the Buffalo Wild Wings Citrus Bowl, Russell Athletic Bowl, the AutoNation Cure Bowl, or the Florida Blue Florida Classic. Exact terms of the deal were not immediately disclosed.
Seating and attendance
Prior to the 2014 renovation, the stadium had 65,000 permanent seats. The lower bowl lacked permanent seats in the north end zone, though temporary bleachers could be erected there if necessary. The temporary bleachers were last used for the 2005 Capital One Bowl, which had an attendance of 70,229.
Following the renovation, the seating capacity was reduced to 60,219 due to the introduction of chair-back seats in the lower bowl and Plaza Level. The upper deck continues to have bleachers. Temporary bleachers can be added in the Plaza level in place of the Party Deck to increase the capacity to 65,194.
In popular culture
Camping World Stadium was a filming location for the 1998 Adam Sandler movie The Waterboy. In the film, Camping World Stadium depicted both the home stadium of the fictional University of Louisiana Cougars as well as the venue of the climactic Bourbon Bowl game.
Exterior shots of Camping World Stadium were used in the television series Coach, starring Craig T. Nelson as Coach Hayden Fox. In the show, Camping World Stadium was the home stadium of the fictional Orlando Breakers franchise, which Coach Fox led during the series’ final 2 seasons (1995–1997). The change, which coincided with a production move to Disney-MGM Studios, reflected the real-life expansion team, the Jacksonville Jaguars.