ORLANDO MAGIC: Camping World Stadium has seen multiple upgrades in the last 10 years, with about $270 million spent. (Getty Images)

Week of events generates about $45 million in economic impact

Camping World Stadium will be ready for the return of the NFL Pro Bowl after being awarded the event this week.

The 65,000-capacity Orlando stadium hosted the Pro Bowl from 2017-2020 and Allen Johnson, chief venues officer for the city, likes to think the NFL’s experience there, coupled with all that the Central Florida region has to offer visitors, made CWS a natural choice to host an event that yielded about $45 million in economic impact in the four years when the stadium hosted the game and related activities from 2017-20.

“We have world-class attractions, hotels, hospitality and airport. Our stadium completed it’s last upgrades in 2021,” Johnson said after the booking was announced. “Since 2014, the stadium has been rebuilt from the terrace level down. Over $270 million has been spent.”

GRAND OPENING: Pre-game ceremonies take place for the NFL Pro Bowl at Camping World Stadium on January 29, 2017 in  Orlando, Florida. (Getty Images)

The Pro Bowl festivities will make for a week of events, including skills challenges that allow the 88 all-stars to showcase their talents. The events culminate with a flag football game on Sunday, Feb. 4.

Flag football first replaced the traditional Pro Bowl game on Feb. 5, 2023, when the event was held at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas, with an announced attendance of 58,331. It was the Pro Bowl’s second straight year at that venue, home of the NFL Raiders. The Pro Bowl game did not take place in 2021 because of the pandemic.

The competition still pits the AFC against the NFL, though the playing of the Pro Bowl game has given way to host of other, non-contact activities. Hall of fame quarterback Peyton Manning will coach the AFC players while brother and fellow Super Bowl winner Eli will coach the NFC team. Peyton’s Manning’s Omaha Productions had been tasked with reinventing the Pro Bowl for the 2023 game.

Flag football, notes Johnson, is gaining popularity among women.

“It’s a reward for earning All-Pro status,” Johnson said. “It’s now focused on skills instead of a game, and the flag football aspect is really cool because one of the fastest growing sports in the U.S. is women’s flag football.”

Events are anticipated to take place across Central Florida, with plenty of opportunities for fan-player interaction, he said.

The booking is great news for the building’s naming rights partner, as well, and not just for the in-person exposure the brand gets.

“Of course, any premier event we bring in, that’s why they put their name on the stadium,” Johnson said. “Last year more than 6  million viewers watched the Pro Bowl across Disney-owned channels. You start looking at events that bring viewership and 6.4 million is huge.”

The Pro Bowl has become a family affair, said Johnson, with players bringing loved ones along to enjoy the festivities and tourist-friendly cities like Las Vegas and Orlando.

“It is a family event,” Johnson explained. “I call it more of a Monster Jam crowd than a typical NFL Sunday afternoon football home crowd or four guys tailgating in the parking lot.”

It’s the kind of audience experienced at Camping World Stadium during the recently concluded XFL season, he said.

“The biggest sellers were ice cream and lemonade, versus beer,” Johnson said.

In addition to the work done since 2014, more improvements are being sought, starting, of course, with the funding.

“We’re in the process of going for additional funding of between $400 million to $800 million to replace the last piece, the upper bowl — the Terrace Level, we call it — and the suites, clubs, etc.,” Johnson said.