Before a crowd of nearly 61,000 at Camping World Stadium…the final score at this year’s Pro Bowl was AFC 20, NFC 13.
[sidebar: Attendance at the game was the 5th largest for a Pro Bowl game since 1970…and this was ONLY our first year.]
But the BIG winner here, was The City Beautiful.
I heard a national broadcaster say during the Pro Bowl Pre-Game show that the ONLY thing that wasn’t perfect during the 2017 Pro Bowl Week here in Orlando was the game day weather. It was the ONLY thing we couldn’t control.
The NFL, players, coaches, fans, media…all said that this year’s Pro Bowl at Camping World Stadium was executed flawlessly. This bodes well for Orlando, since we have another contract year to host pro football’s All Star Game next year, and a third year option. Many are hoping that O-town has a run similar to that of Hawaii over time.
Here are reasons why Orlando is a much better site than Hawaii for the Pro Bowl.
- Attractions: Disney, Universal, Sea World, and others.
- World class hotels
- Beaches in either direction, only one hour away
- Disney’s Wide World of Sports is “made” for such events. During the week they held skills competitions, (kids) punt, pass & kick contests, and more.
- The ONLY (realistic) way to get to Hawaii is by taking a very long (and somewhat expensive) flight.
New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees, when asked about his Central Florida experience said, “My kids are having a ball”. For Detroit Lions kicker Matt Prater, it was a bit of a homecoming. The UCF alum said, ““It’s a lot of fun and always nice to get back to where you started, come to UCF.”
Let’s use Lebanon, Kansas as an example. It’s the most centrally located city in the contiguous United States to get to either Hawaii or Orlando. Then we’ll compare flights from NYC and Los Angeles to both locations.
According to Expedia.com…the cheapest non-stop round trip flight (with three months advance booking) from Lebanon, Kansas (closest airport: Central Nebraska Regional) to Orlando is $339.
but, let’s look closer to other major cities across the country…
the cheapest non-stop round trip flight (with three months advance booking) from New York to Orlando is $158.
the cheapest non-stop round trip flight (with three months advance booking) from Los Angeles to Orlando is $278.
the cheapest non-stop round trip flight (with three months advance booking) from Chicago to Orlando is $166.40.
the cheapest non-stop round trip flight (with three months advance booking) from Lebanon, Kansas (closest airport: Central Nebraska Regional) to Hawaii is $953.
the cheapest non-stop round trip flight (with three months advance booking) from New York to Hawaii is $758.
the cheapest non-stop round trip flight (with three months advance booking) from Los Angeles to Hawaii is $591.
the cheapest non-stop round trip flight (with three months advance booking) from Chicago to Hawaii is $730.
Let’s face it…for players, coaches, fans and literally anyone…Orlando is a “family-friendly” city. MADE for an event like the Pro Bowl. Many players echoed Brees’ sentiments. Brees could have easily been an ambassador for The City Beautiful when he said, “Obviously everybody loves Hawaii, but I didn’t realize just how good a Pro Bowl here in Orlando could be.” And Drew…we’re just gettin’ started!
Kudos to all the people involved in bringing the Pro Bowl to Central Florida! Also, to all the folks who were the “boots on the ground” who made this such a phenomenal experience for all the tourists who were here for the week and left with intentions to come back and bring their families next year…and hopefully many years to come.
NOW…since the finance group that bailed out of funding the Oakland Raiders move to Las Vegas…maybe we can court them and convince them to come to Orlando…after all…wouldn’t a battle between the Raiders and the Buccaneers be a Battle of the Pirates?!