THE FLORIDA CITRUS BOWL
The Florida Citrus Bowl Stadium, the grandfather of the Orlando Venues facilities, has quite a history. The Florida Citrus Bowl, originally Orlando Stadium, began as a Works Progress Administration project by President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1936. The original cost of the stadium was $115,000. The stadium was renamed the Tangerine Bowl in 1947 and the first college football bowl game was played on January 1, 1947. Catawba College defeated Maryville College 31-6. At that time, the stadium seating capacity was 10,000.
In 1952, the stadium capacity was expanded by 2,000 seats and was host to the “Little Bowl with the Big Heart,” because all proceeds from the game went directly to charity. In 1968, the stadium underwent another expansion bringing seating capacity to 17,000 and the first press box was constructed. The Tangerine Bowl underwent expansion from 1974 to 1976, to bring the total seating capacity to 50,000. In 1983, the Florida Department of Citrus became the title sponsor at a price of $250,000.
Beginning in 1989, the Florida Citrus Bowl underwent a $30 million expansion and renovation project to add upper decks to both sides of the field and 30 private suites. The most notable features of the expansion were the new upper decks located along each sideline. Each single upper deck contains 9,000 seats. The new decks are manufactured of precast concrete and wrap around over the existing stands to focus on the action, putting spectators as close to the field as possible. Four concrete ramp towers at the corners of the stadium provide access to the decks and give the Florida Citrus Bowl a new coliseum-like appearance.
The stadium has been host to countless high school, collegiate and professional football games. It has been the home field to the Orlando Broncos of the Southern Football League from 1962-1963, the Orlando Panthers of the Continental Football League from 1966-1970, the Florida Blazers of the World Football League in 1974, the University of Central Florida from 1979-2006, the Orlando Americans of the American Football Association in 1981, the Orlando Renegades of the United States Football League in 1985, the Orlando Thunder of the World League of American Football from 1991-1992, the Orlando Sundogs of the A-League in 1997, the Orlando Rage of the XFL in 2001 and currently the Florida Tuskers of the United Football League and Jones High School. The stadium has also served as host for National Football League preseason games for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the New York Jets and several neutral field, regular season college games, most notably Florida vs. Mississippi State and Florida State vs. Notre Dame. Presently, the Florida Citrus Bowl serves as host to the East-West Shrine Game, the MEAC/SWAC Challenge, the Florida Classic, the Champs Sports Bowl, and the Capital One Bowl.
The stadium has been host to "Rock Superbowls" featuring such performers as The Rolling Stones, The Who, Genesis, Pink Floyd, George Michael, Paul McCartney, Guns'n Roses, Billy Joel/Elton John and Eagles. On April 14, 1979, the Florida Citrus Bowl then the Tangerine Bowl, hosted the Florida World Music Festival, commonly known as the “Florida Jam.” The acts included Aerosmith, Blackfoot, Brownsville Station, Cheap Trick, Frank Marino, Mahogany Rush and Ted Nugent. In October 1981, the Florida Citrus Bowl became the only venue to feature Van Halen and The Rolling Stones together.
On March 30, 2008, the Florida Citrus Bowl hosted WrestleMania XXIV and set an attendance record of 74,635 fans. Tickets went on sale November 3, 2007 and over 41,000 tickets were sold in the first hour. It became the highest-grossing event in Florida Citrus Bowl history with an $5,854,590 in total gross ticket sales.
Orlando Stadium 1936-1946
Tangerine Bowl 1947-1975
Citrus Bowl 1976
Orlando Stadium 1977-1982
Florida Citrus Bowl 1983-Present