The Pro Bowl will return to Camping World Stadium on Sunday, Jan. 28, 2018, at 3 p.m., following the success of its first year in Orlando, the NFL announced today.
The announcement was somewhat expected. After all, more than 60,000 fans attended the 2017 game on Jan. 29 — the climax to a week of professional football events that drew the attendance of thousands of locals and visiting sports fans. Orlando's success was judged on several factors, including if the event sold out, which it did, as well as making sure the players and their families had a great experience and how the youth and high school community’s relationship resonated here in Orlando.
The Pro Bowl previously always was hosted in Honolulu, but last year the NFL decided it was time for a change. “We have a great relationship with Hawaii, but we re-imagined the Pro Bowl at a location that is family-friendly and youthful,” Peter O’Reilly, NFL senior vice president of events, previously told Orlando Business Journal.
The 2017 game was predicted to have a $60M economic impact.
The 2018 game will be televised on ESPN and ESPN Deportes, and simulcast on ABC, the first time it will air on both broadcast and cable networks. It also will be streamed live on the ESPN app, and audio coverage will be available on Westwood One, SiriusXM NFL Radio and the TuneIn app.
For the second consecutive year, the NFL will host Pro Bowl Week festivities across the Orlando area, bringing new experiences and activities as well as events focused on commemorating all levels of football — from youth to high school to the NFL’s best. In addition, Pro Bowl players again will be able to invite their former youth or high school coach to be a part of the week’s celebrations.
“The Pro Bowl is not only a time to watch NFL greats compete live, but it is also a unique opportunity to inspire youth and the next generation of stars,” said O’Reilly in a prepared statement. “We received tremendous feedback from players, coaches and fans about Orlando’s first Pro Bowl, and we are excited to build upon that enthusiasm with a week-long festival that celebrates the entire football community.”
The 2018 Pro Bowl will follow the traditional AFC versus NFC match-up, which returned last season, and feature 88 of the best NFL players — 44 from each conference – as determined by votes by fans, players and coaches. Both teams will be led by offensive and defensive NFL legends who will serve as captains representing each conference.
Orlando once more will be home to the NFL Flag Championships Powered By USA Football, the announcement of the Don Shula NFL High School Coach of the Year Award and the annual USA Football National Conference, the largest congregation of youth and high school football administrators and coaches in the country.
Here's what local officials had to say about the announcement:
- “Hosting Orlando’s inaugural NFL Pro Bowl at Camping World Stadium earlier this year was not only fun, but it was a resounding success for our Central Florida community,” said Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer in a prepared statement. “Their confidence in our city’s ability to put on such a high-profile event underscores our reputation as one of the premier sports destinations in the U.S.”
- The tourist development tax-funded improvements "at Camping World Stadium have allowed us to compete for premier events like the 2018 Pro Bowl,” said Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs in a prepared statement. “Not only are we looking forward to another great NFL football game – our second in a row – the Pro Bowl offers a full week of family and fan-friendly events and activities – a perfect match for our family-friendly tourism brand and a great fit for our local residents.”
- “This year’s sold-out game was a landmark moment for Orlando and our reputation as a preferred destination for world-class sporting events,” said Florida Citrus Sports CEO Steve Hogan. “We became an NFL city for a week last season and look forward to making the 2018 Pro Bowl bigger and better.”
Additional events during Pro Bowl Week are set to include the Pro Bowl Skills Showdown, testing the athletic prowess of All-Stars from each conference in unique competitions, and the NFL Pro Bowl Experience, a free football festival at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at Walt Disney World Resort.
Fans attending the Pro Bowl Experience will be closer to the action with new activities, immersive exhibits and sponsor activations. Pro Bowl practices for the AFC and NFC teams also will be held at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex, allowing fans to watch their favorite players as they prepare for the game.
The NFL Foundation will continue its Pro Bowl Grant Program and organize community events to benefit residents and the surrounding region. Last year, the NFL Foundation provided a Pro Bowl Grant to LIFT Orlando to fund the refurbishment of a multi-purpose “Play 60 Field” at Lake Lorna Doone Park.
Tickets for the Pro Bowl will go on sale to the public in the fall. Fans interested in buying tickets may register at ProBowl.com for presale opportunities. Season ticket members for all 32 teams automatically will be included in the presale, and all previous Orlando Pro Bowl ticket buyers will receive priority access to buy tickets.