Camping World Stadium is a stadium in Orlando, Florida, located in the West Lakes neighborhood of Downtown Orlando, west of new sports and entertainment facilities including the Amway Center, the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts, and Exploria Stadium. It opened in 1936 as Orlando Stadium and has also been known as the Tangerine Bowl and Florida Citrus Bowl. The City of Orlando owns and operates the stadium.
Camping World Stadium is the current home venue of the Citrus Bowl and the Cheez-It Bowl. It is also the regular host of other college football games including the Florida Classic between Florida A&M and Bethune-Cookman, the MEAC/SWAC Challenge, and the Camping World Kickoff. The stadium was built for football and in the past, it has served as home of several alternate-league football teams. From 2011 to 2013.
Camping World Stadium History
Construction on the stadium began in 1936 as a project of the Works Progress Administration under President Franklin D. Roosevelt during the Great Depression. The stadium was built to the immediate east of the baseball park Tinker Field, which opened in 1914. The stadium opened later in 1936 with a capacity of 8,900 as Orlando Stadium.
From 1974 to 1976 an expansion project raised the capacity to 50,612, including a 3,600-seat upper deck on the east sidelines. However, shortly after completion the project proved to be a public fiasco and potentially an architectural and engineering failure. On November 27, 1976 the first major game was held at the expanded stadium, a regular season matchup between Florida and Miami.
The maligned stadium’s reputation was heavily tarnished after the upper deck scandal, criticized by public officials, media, and fans. Further complicating the situation was UCF’s pending move to the stadium for 1979. The city finally received a settlement of $900,500 from the stadium’s engineers, architects, and designers, money that was soon appropriated for new improvements. The infamous steel east upper deck was dismantled in May 1980.
Camping World Stadium has been home field to several short-lived professional football teams. From 1966 to 1970, the stadium was home to the Orlando Panthers of the Continental Football League. In 1974, the Florida Blazers of the World Football League played their only season in existence at the Tangerine Bowl. The USFL’s Orlando Renegades played one season in 1985. The Orlando Thunder of the WLAF called the Citrus Bowl home in their two-season existence during the early 1990s.
High School football
The Florida High School Athletic Association state football championships are held at Camping World Stadium. The varsity football team from nearby Jones High School used Camping World Stadium as a regular season home field for decades through the end of their 2011 season. The school started playing home football games on their own field beginning on August 31, 2012.
The playing surface is large enough for use in international soccer matches, and it was a venue for the 1994 FIFA World Cup. In five matches, attendance averaged over 60,000 per match. In 1996, Olympic soccer matches in both the men’s and women’s competitions were held at the stadium.
It hosted the USISL A-League Orlando Sundogs in 1997. It also hosted the Major League Soccer All-Star Game in 1998. The stadium was the home of Orlando City SC, a soccer team in the USL Pro League. In 2013, the investment group that owned that club was awarded an expansion team in Major League Soccer. They spent their 2014 season in USL Pro at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Lake Buena Vista while Camping World Stadium was being renovated.
During the 2013 season, Fifth Third Bank owned naming rights to the field for Orlando City matches. Its name during those matches was Fifth Third Bank Field at the Citrus Bowl. Orlando City played their final USL Pro match at Camping World Stadium on September 6, 2013. They won the USL Pro Championship over Charlotte Eagles, 7–4, before a crowd of 20,886.
On March 30, 2008, the Citrus Bowl held WWE’s WrestleMania XXIV. This was the first WrestleMania to be held in the state of Florida, and the second to be held outdoors. Nine professional wrestling matches were scheduled for the event, which featured a supercard of more than one main bout. At 74,635, it was the largest crowd, at the time, ever to attend an event at the venue.
By 2005, Orlando-area government officials and officials from the University of Central Florida expressed dissatisfaction with the state of the facility and lack of revenue, as while UCF was the primary leasing tenant for the facility, it received minimal revenue from football games. Lack of an agreement to rectify these issues led UCF to consider relocating, or spend considerable expense to upgrade the facility at its own cost.
The United States women’s national soccer team returned to Camping World Stadium on October 25, 2015. They defeated Brazil again, 3–1. The attendance of 32,869 was the largest attendance for a standalone USWNT friendly in the state of Florida. The Orlando Pride, the expansion National Women’s Soccer League team owned by Orlando City SC, played in Camping World Stadium until the Orlando City Stadium was complete.
Seating and Attendance
Prior to the 2014 renovation, the stadium had 65,000 permanent seats. The lower bowl lacked permanent seats in the north end zone, though temporary bleachers could be erected there if necessary. The temporary bleachers were last used for the 2005 Capital One Bowl, which had an attendance of 70,229.