SBD/June 26, 2012/Facilities

Orlando, Orange County Agree To $175M Renovation Of Citrus Bowl

Improvements to the 76-year-old Citrus Bowl could help attract more events
Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer and Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs signed “a preliminary agreement” for a “$175 million renovation of Orlando's aging Citrus Bowl,” according to Schlueb & Damron of the ORLANDO SENTINEL. The mayors said that the arrangement “will make the 76-year-old stadium more competitive when it comes to bidding for events.” Florida Citrus Sports is “about to begin negotiating to keep the Capital One Bowl and Russell Athletic Bowl in Orlando after the current agreement runs out next year.” Orlando's climate, hotel capacity and theme parks “make it an attractive destination, but with the stadium's poor condition and renovation plans stalled for the past three years, sports boosters had predicted it would be a tough sell.” FCS President Steve Hogan said that the “city-county deal changes that.” Construction “won't begin until early 2014, but just knowing there's a firm plan in place gives the Citrus Bowl a stronger bargaining position.” The stadium has “not been on the list of top sites for events for years and likely would not have been in the running when it comes to bidding for top bowl games.” Schlueb & Damron note plans call for “a new lower bowl with 8,000 club seats; additional restrooms and concessions; a wider, more modern concourse; new locker rooms and media rooms; banquet space and a ballroom; and possibly more suites.” A five-year-old blueprint "put the cost at $175 million," but officials said that the “final bill could be higher.” Changes to the original plan approved in ‘07 will allow the city “to issue bonds to finance the upgrades.” Those bonds will “likely use a mix of city revenue -- primarily sales, utility and communications taxes -- as a credit source, but the debt would be repaid with tourist taxes.” No property taxes will be used in the deal; “to do so would require a referendum” (ORLANDO SENTINEL, 6/26). Dyer said that even with the renovations, the Citrus Bowl “is a B-minus or A-minus stadium" (ORLANDO SENTINEL, 6/26).
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