After years of lobbying for funds and a tough renovation period, Florida Citrus Sports officials are pleased Orlando is reaping rewards.
Renovated Camping World Stadium has landed its latest major event, with Orlando officially set to host the ACC football championship game Dec. 3.
The game will either kick off at 7:45 p.m. if it's on ESPN or 8 p.m. if it's carried by ABC, the Atlantic Coast Conference announced Thursday.
Steve Hogan, CEO of Florida Citrus Sports, is excited the $208 million renovation to the stadium a few years ago continues to pay off.
“I hope it's just further substantiation that this investment our community made a few years ago has really been a wise investment and it's paid off beyond probably most people's beliefs,” said Hogan, whose group helps bring major events to the stadium.
“. . . The early success that we've enjoyed has come fast and furious, and I just couldn't be happier for the people that live here.”
High school football state championship games scheduled for the same day as the ACC championship have been pushed back a week to accommodate landing the major event.
The ACC recently opted to relocate all 10 of its neutral-site championship events from North Carolina in response to the state's controversial House Bill 2. The law requires visitors to schools and government buildings to use restrooms of the gender that is listed on their birth certificates and includes other provisions considered discriminatory to the LGBT community.
The NCAA announced it was removing all of its neutral-site championships from the Tar Heel state Sept. 12 in response to the bill, and the ACC made its move on Sept. 14.
Hogan said community leaders received a questionnaire from the ACC inquiring about the inclusiveness of the area, working to confirm legislation and ordinances were in place that would prevent a situation similar to the North Carolina controversy.
Orlando passed the test and the venue will host the game.
Stadium officials already had impressed the ACC with its long-time bowl ties and a neutral-site showdown between Florida State and Ole Miss on Sept. 5. The venue will also be hosting the Florida Classic and the Pro Bowl in the next 12 months.
Jimbo Fisher, whose Seminoles played their spring game and season opener at Camping World Stadium, raved about the venue and the city of Orlando.
“First and foremost, it’s very accessible," Fisher said. "You’re talking about Orlando, maybe one of the accessible cities in all of America because of Disney World and all the vacation spots. There are cheap flights, and accessible. Great hotel rooms, great rooms for your team to go to all the meeting rooms and all the space and everything. Then you have a great group of people in Orlando at the stadium that treat you first class. The stadium is beautiful. They renovated it. The stands are great. It’s a great atmosphere.”
North Carolina coach Larry Fedora, whose team lost to Baylor in the Russell Athletic Bowl played in Orlando last season, echoed Fisher’s statement.
“Orlando is a great town," he said. "I thought the people there that put on the bowl did a tremendous job, with all the accommodations, how they handled our team and what they did with our team. They were very easy to work with. And with Orlando itself, you’ve got so much going on in Orlando that your fans and everybody that’s traveling with you, they have a wonderful time. I know my family really, really enjoyed it.”
Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte has hosted the ACC title game since 2010. The game previously was played in Tampa (2008-09) and Jacksonville (2005-07).
The ACC has not decided where it will host the game after this season.
"That hasn't come up in any way. It’s just this year," Hogan said. "We haven’t even broached that subject, to be honest with you.
"It's been here is this opportunity, we want to react to it and that's all that we've been focused on."
But Hogan said he would welcome discussion about possibly hosting the ACC title game in the future.
The biggest challenge Orlando officials faced while pursuing this year’s ACC championship was rescheduling high school football championships.
"At the request of our partners at the Central Florida Sports Commission, the City of Orlando and Florida Citrus Sports, we have agreed to move our championship games to a single, three-day weekend,” FHSAA executive director Roger Dearing said in a statement. “The FHSAA would like to thank its 1A-4A member schools for their understanding in this matter."
Times for the state championship games will be announced in late October.
Source : orlandosentinel.com