For the longest time, we could bank on the Pro Bowl being in Hawaii. It was a comfortable, recognizable setting.
At the end of the 2014 season, the NFL held the all-star game in Arizona a week before the Super Bowl was played there. It seemed that lining up the Super Bowl and Pro Bowl could become a thing. Or, it seemed the NFL would consider rotating the game.
Then Orlando came along. Orlando, without an NFL team but with a solid venue in Camping World Stadium, hosted the Pro Bowl at the end of the 2016 season.
Orlando clearly made an impression, because it has hosted the last three Pro Bowls, and will be hosting its fourth in a row in January.
Orlando to host 2020 Pro Bowl
The NFL announced Wednesday that Orlando will host the 2020 Pro Bowl. That’s not a big surprise, considering that the NFL seemed pleased with Orlando the last three years.
"We're thrilled to return to Orlando for the fourth year in a row and bring the Pro Bowl experience to the city of Orlando, our fans, players and partners," NFL executive vice president of club business and league events Peter O’Reilly said in a statement. "We're happy to provide not only a week-long celebration of football, but also to extend the celebration of the NFL's 100th season throughout this year's Pro Bowl."
It seems like Orlando has become the next Honolulu, and we should expect to get used to seeing the Pro Bowl there for a while.
NFL seems to prefer regular Pro Bowl host
The future of the Pro Bowl has been a popular topic for years. The game is rarely competitive, and that’s understandable. A thousand solutions have been offered to help the game, but the NFL hasn’t made any drastic changes yet.
The venue is important. It would make sense for the NFL to move the game around like it does the draft, to expose the event to new fanbases and keep it fresh. Then again, it’s hard to sell the game’s all stars on a week of practice in Minneapolis or Green Bay. There are only so many cities that would be attractive for the Pro Bowl.
Orlando seems to be the league’s happy medium. It’s a great vacation destination for many and can host a big event. And it’s a way for the city to feel connected to the NFL, even without a franchise.
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