The NFL’s Pro Bowl games return to Orlando and Camping World Stadium at the conclusion of the upcoming NFL season.
The Pro Bowl Games replaced the traditional Pro Bowl in 2023 with weeklong activities that saw 88 of the best players in the AFC and NFC compete in a variety of competitions, showcasing their skills on and off the field. The highlight was a flag football game on Sunday February 4, 2024.
“We’re excited to bring this reimagined version of the Pro Bowl,” said Matthew Shapiro, NFL vice president of events strategy. “The last time fans here in Orlando saw the Pro Bowl, it was a slightly different format. We went over to a flag football game last year, as many know, and really focused on the skills and the players as a whole. A week-long celebration of football.”
Peyton and Eli Manning will return as head coaches of the AFC and NFC teams. The game will be broadcast on ESPN and ABC with kick-off scheduled for 3pm
Last year’s games were held in Las Vegas, with the February 5th flag football game being held at Allegiant Stadium.
Shapiro said the reaction to the format change has been positive. The skill challenge averaged 1.06 million viewers on ESPN, while the flag football game drew approximately 60,000 viewers and averaged 6.4 million viewers on Disney, ABC and Disney XD.
“Players and fans really enjoyed it,” Shapiro said. “The players thought it was one of the best Pro Bowl experiences they’ve had and their feedback has been really positive. The fans loved it and the excitement was higher than ever.”
“We are proud to have this week-long celebration returning to our community,” said Jerry L. Demings, Mayor of Orange County. “The first four years of the Pro Bowls in Orlando resulted in a significant economic impact estimated at $4-5 million across 39,000 room nights.”
Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer added, “We are full of football fans here and I know they will be coming out in full force at the Pro Bowl games just like we have in the past.” This event draws thousands of people from across the country and around the world to Central Florida and millions of viewers are tuning in to see the January sun here in Orlando.”
The original Pro Bowl began in Los Angeles in 1951 before eventually moving to Hawaii. The game was played at Sun Life Stadium (Miami), University of Phoenix Stadium (Glendale, Arizona) and Camping World Stadium before moving west to Las Vegas.
Orlando hosted the Pro Bowl from 2017-2020, with the game attracting an average of 55,938 fans. This year’s Games will feature events throughout Central Florida, including fan experiences.
Whether central Florida will figure into the Pro Bowl’s future plans remains uncertain after 2024.
“We’re really focused on year-by-year,” Shapiro said. “We know Orlando has been a great host for a number of years. We are looking forward to this year and afterwards we will talk about the future together.”
The announcement was made at the Orange County Administration Building, where local leaders heard recommendations from a citizen advisory group on using hundreds of millions of dollars in tax reserves for tourism development.
One of the recommendations was $800 million to complete the renovations to Camping World Stadium.
Florida Citrus Sports CEO Steve Hogan said Tuesday’s news highlighted the importance of completing renovations at the 65,000-seat venue.
“We have partially started to renovate the stadium, but of course we want to finish that,” said Hogan. “The fact that in 2022 it hosted nearly a million visitors with an economic impact of $650 million and two trillion impressions. In events like these, that’s exactly what it’s supposed to do.”
But Hogan is quick to point out the impact it’s having on surrounding communities as $100 million has been invested in the central Florida region. These projects include a new PLAY 60 field at Lake Lorna Doone Park and investments in Lyft Orlando.
“For me, these are all great achievements,” he said.