The Florida Citrus Bowl Stadium, the grandfather of the Orlando Venues facilities, has quite a history. It was originally constructed in 1936, with seating for 8,900 people. The first annual bowl game was held in 1947, for the benefit of the Elks and was called the Tangerine Bowl Game.
In 1967, the Stadium was expanded to 18,000 seats and in 1974, additional seating was added to bring the capacity to 48,000 seats. In January 1989, the transformation of the Florida Citrus Bowl Stadium into a facility of the 90's began at the cost of $38 million. Several improvements were made including an additional disabled elevator; additional disabled seating, electrical and phone upgrades and a state-of-the-art playing field. Most recently, new escalator systems were installed for easy accessibility to seating.
The Florida Citrus Bowl is the home of the annual New Year's Day football classic, The Captial One Bowl and Jones High School football teams. It was also the site of five 1994 World Cup Soccer games and 1996 Olympic Soccer - first/second rounds. 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 the Eagles. In addition to these top concert acts, the Citrus Bowl also hosts the AMA Supercross Series and the Superbowl of Motor Sports. The Florida Citrus Bowl has also hosted major collegiate games such as FSU VS. Notre Dame and Florida vs. Mississippi State.
The Citrus Bowl was the stadium where they shot "Waterboy", and the home Hayden Fox's Orlando Breakers of the TV Show "Coach.
On April 3, 1999 PCM4 wrote: You list the Citrus Bowl opening date of 1989, yet have listed the Renegades of the USFL as playing there in 1985. I happen to know the stadium opened much earlier than that (I think late 60's or early 70's). It may have been renamed in 1989. Formerly (including when the
Renegades played) called the Tangerine Bowl.
* Home of the New Year's Day Football classic, The Florida Citrus Bowl Nationally televised on ABC
* 30 Luxury Sky Boxes
* Complete Press Box Facilities
* Home Field for the University of Central Florida Football Team
* Site of the 1994 World Cup Soccer
* Site of 1996 Olympic Soccer
* Host to "Rock Superbowls" featuring such performers as The Rolling Stones,, The Who, Genesis, Pink Floyd, George Michael, Guns n' Roses, Paul McCartney, Billy Joel and Elton John
* AMA Supercross Series
* Superbowl of Motrosports
FINANCING WORRIES ORLANDO OFFICIALS
December 4, 2008
Copyright 2008 MediaVentures
Orlando, Fla. - Renovation of the aging Florida Citrus Bowl stadium won't begin until at least
2010 - a year late - and may have to wait even longer, Orlando officials acknowledge.
A global credit crunch has made the sale of a bond issue almost impossible, they say. Worse, a
bleak tourism forecast raises questions about the reliability of the revenue source that's supposed to fund the $175 million project.
The city had planned to sell $150 million worth of bonds early next year to help finance
construction of a long-planned downtown performing-arts center and also raise the first $21 million for renovations of the Depression-era football stadium.
But the bond issue has been postponed indefinitely, and officials are now looking to sell
short-term notes to keep the projects moving.
"Just as our finance team was starting to meet, the financial markets blew up. The interest rates
were through the roof," Orlando Chief Financial Officer Rebecca Sutton explained.
Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer's venue team now says it hopes to start the stadium project in 2010
and still finish on time in 2011.
"They're looking at how to do it in a two-year span and possibly being able to do some work
during the bowl season to keep us on track," city spokeswoman Heather Allebaugh said.
The delay comes amid concerns about the financial underpinning of the plan - approved by city
and county commissioners 16 months ago - for a new National Basketball Association arena, the
performing-arts center and the Citrus Bowl upgrade.
Of the $1.1 billion needed for the three venues, more than two-thirds depends on the sale of
bonds to investors. The city will tap hotel taxes, downtown-property taxes, sales taxes and other
revenue to repay the bonds, with interest, during 30 years.
The $480 million arena, featuring a new home court for the Orlando Magic, already has most of
its financing. Orlando sold $310 million in bonds for the arena in March, though tremors in the
financial markets even then caused a four-month delay and a higher-than-expected interest rate.
Today, officials say the planned $150 million bond issue for the performing-arts center and
Citrus Bowl is out of the question because long-term interest rates are so high. Instead, the city will sell short-term notes early next year and wait for the bond market to improve.
Sutton acknowledged those notes will have to be converted into a bond issue at some point.
She hopes that can happen in a year.
Regardless, most of the new money will go to the $425 million performing-arts center, which is
ready to break ground. Design work has been paid for by some of the $86 million in private
contributions raised so far.
The private backers have agreed to raise $130 million overall. After that money is used up, the
city is supposed to float another $141 million bond issue to complete construction.
The city-owned stadium is last in line.
The Citrus Bowl project is set to receive $21 million from the city's short-term financing. But the bulk of the renovation cost - $140 million - depends on bonds tied to hotel taxes.
And the current tourism slump - a casualty of the sour economy - is raising questions about
whether there'll be sufficient tourist-tax money to support the bonds.
Hotel-tax collections are expected to remain flat or even drop in 2009. Orlando hotels reported
a 5.1 percent drop in bookings in October, the fifth straight month of year-over-year declines.
Tourist-tax revenues grew more than expected in the first two years of the venue-funding plan,
yielding a surplus of $9.6 million that will be turned over to the city in January.
But Orange County Comptroller Martha Haynie said the city shouldn't count on that much the
"What they get in January of 2009 may be substantially lower in January of 2010," Haynie said.
"And I'm not sure how they go forward without knowing what their future revenue stream is going
to be. If [hotel taxes are] down, they won't get much next year."
Orlando's Sutton said the city plans to hold on to the $9.6 million to secure future bonds for the arts center.
The venue-financing plan relies on an average 2 percent increase in tourist-tax revenues each
year for 30 years.
But passenger traffic at Orlando International Airport - a key tourism barometer - is not
expected to get back to this year's levels until 2012 and won't completely rebound until 2014 or
Future tourism-tax growth above 2 percent could make up for a dip in collections during the
next few years.
But for the immediate future, whatever tourist-tax money comes in will likely go to the
performing-arts center - not the Citrus Bowl.
Design of the stadium upgrade - which will include the luxury suites and other amenities
supporters say are essential to retain the Champs Sports Bowl and Capital One Bowl games played
there each holiday season - was to have started in 2007.
However, the city didn't hire the architect until last month. Still, members of the design team
say the work can be accelerated - if the tourist-tax money materializes. (Orlando Sentinel)
PLAN PROPOSED TO CLOSE CITRUS BOWL, BUILD NEW VENUE
March 12, 2009
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Orlando, Fla. - Orange County Commissioner Bill Segal wants to ditch plans to renovate the
aging Citrus Bowl and build a retractable-roof sports stadium next to the convention center with at least $330 million in public money.
A new stadium near International Drive, though costing more than a proposed $175 million
Citrus Bowl renovation, could attract private financing and possibly free up more public funds to
build a new performing arts center, Segal wrote in a memo to fellow commissioners.
"This will allow us to focus on getting the arts center done," Segal said. "It's something to break the logjam."
Officials from Orlando, which owns the Citrus Bowl, said they were not briefed on Segal's idea.
But they questioned his overall financing strategy, and stressed that the ideal site for a stadium is downtown.
"Having the venues downtown benefits the whole community. The problem with putting the
venue on I-Drive is it benefits a smaller segment of the community," said City Attorney Mayanne
Downs, a close adviser to Mayor Buddy Dyer.
In July 2007, Orlando and Orange County leaders voted for an ambitious $1.1 billion plan for
the arts center, football stadium and a new $480 million Orlando Magic arena.
But the tourist-tax and property-tax revenues that were counted on to pay for the plan have
plummeted in the recent recession. Only the arena appears on track to open as planned in late
2010. The $425 million arts center may face at least a two-year delay, and Citrus Bowl upgrades
could wait a decade or longer.
County officials say that weekly talks with Dyer's financing team have been on hold while city
officials look for alternative funding plans.
Segal said he had preliminary talks with developer Stan Thomas, who confirmed he would
contribute private funds to help finance a stadium near I-Drive. He wouldn't say how much.
Thomas and his former business partner, Marc Watson, floated a similar idea in 2006, arguing a
basketball arena should be built near the convention center. A year later, they discussed a plan that included a ballpark, an arena and a Grand Prix-style race track. Neither plan went anywhere.
Thomas, an Atlanta developer, controls hundreds of acres along Universal Boulevard next to
the convention center. A stadium there would clearly benefit his development plans.
Segal proposes leaving the responsibility for the arts center's financing to the city, which would sell bonds to be paid off from future downtown property-tax revenues.
He said that would free up $130 million in tourist taxes that could be spent on a stadium. He
would shift another $140 million in tourist taxes now earmarked for the Citrus Bowl, and throw in
another $60 million once tourist-tax revenues rebound, to devote a total of $330 million to the
I-Drive stadium, his memo states.
He did acknowledge that the downturn in tourist-tax revenue could delay the project for several
Segal's memo says some retractable-roof stadiums have been built "in the $450 million range."
But retractable-roof stadiums in several cities have been estimated to cost twice that.
Downs said Segal's premise is flawed. City and county officials have said downtown taxes alone
couldn't cover the arts center's full cost; it would still need help from the tourist tax.
"The performing arts center is entitled to that money. This community has already spoken loud
and clear on how it wants that money to be spent. It wants it to be spent on the performing arts
center," Downs said.
Segal said his main goal is to keep the venues plan on track and find ways to reignite tourism.
November 5, 2009
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Orlando will move ahead with a portion of their plan to renovate the Citrus Bowl, even though the full $175 million project cannot be funded at this time. The planned $10 million project includes new artificial turf. Other work have not been decided.
April 15, 2010
Copyright 2009 MediaVentures
Orlando plans to move forward with $10 million in upgrades to the Citrus Bowl while $175
million in other work is delayed pending an improvement in the economy. The renovation will include artificial turf meant to avoid a repeat of the Capital One Bowl on New Year's Day, when a pre-game downpour turned the field into a sea of mud and clumps of loose sod. The interim improvements will be paid for with proceeds from the sale of the land where the Amway Arena and the Bob Carr Performing Arts Centre sit. The city hasn't sold the land yet, but it has already borrowed $90 million in anticipation of the sale. In addition to artificial turf, the 74-year-old stadium will get additional restrooms, a new box office and concession stands. A telecommunications upgrade will allow fans for the first time to pay for food and drinks with credit cards. Cosmetic improvements include new paint and a single surface that will replace the mix of concrete, asphalt, wood chips and dirt on the ground level.
NEW CLUB SECTION PLANNED FOR CITRUS BOWL
October 14, 2010
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Orlando, Fla. - An upscale club is under construction in the luxury suites section of the "
Bowl, Florida " Sports executive officer Steve Hogan told the Orlando Sentinel.
The Skyline Club, replacing six of the 30 private luxury suites, will accommodate 100 people
who purchase a season-ticket package that includes admittance to every stadium event, including the Capital One Bowl on Jan. 1 and the Florida Classic in November 2011. A seat for the year will cost $1,500. It's the first club seating in the stadium's 74-year history.
Hogan said he hopes renovations will be completed by the end of next month.
At 3,500 square feet, the Skyline Club is a hybrid between a traditional luxury suites and traditional club seats. The club has a private bar, a buffet, controlled temperature, flat-screen televisions and private restrooms. There are three rows of seating, an open-air window and each seat is sold individually.
Funded by the not-for-profit Florida " Sports, the Skyline Club will cost a little more than $650,000 and is expected to generate $200,000 per year. This project is separate from the city's renovation plans.
The club will operate 365 days a year and be available for private parties and banquets. The glass doors and windows to the club will provide patrons a skyline view of downtown Orlando, in addition to a view of the game, the newspaper reported.
CITRUS BOWL RENOVATION COULD START SOONER
June 2, 2011
Copyright 2011 MediaVentures
Orlando, Fla. Ð The Orlando Sentinel says the rebound in tourism that's allowing construction to
begin on a new downtown performing-arts center could also jump-start the renovation of the Florida Citrus Bowl stadium.
If tourism continues to recover, money could start flowing to the aging stadium as soon as 2015 - far sooner than previously predicted.
Because the recession caused tourist tax collections to plummet, the stadium project has become the all-but-forgotten stepchild of the Orlando venues plan approved in 2007. It has been stuck on a back shelf while the city built the Orlando Magic's Amway Center arena and struggled to find funding for the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts.
Without a significant tourism recovery, city officials had predicted that the $175 million renovation of the Citrus Bowl might have to wait a decade or more.
But Orlando officials think that tourism recovery has come, and sooner than expected. City officials recently told the Orlando Sentinel that by early 2015, there may be enough money to pay for most of the stadium renovation.
"We haven't given up on the Citrus Bowl," Rebecca Sutton, the city's chief financial officer and the architect of the $1.1 billion financing plan for the three venues, told the newspaper.
The 75-year-old stadium has no resident football team, but it's the home field of the Orlando City soccer club and hosts the Capital One Bowl, Champs Sports Bowl and Florida Classic, as well as motor sports, concerts and touring shows.
It's slated to receive new lower-bowl seating; 4,000 club seats; 10 new luxury suites; banquet space; a ballroom; and new restrooms, locker rooms and concession stands.
"We're very encouraged by the uptick in tourism," Florida Citrus Sports CEO Steve Hogan told the Sentinel. "We'd be delighted if there were some serious efforts to figure out how to finish the third venue."
But the newspaper said the Citrus Bowl's future is still far from certain.
Tourist-tax collections are increasing, and city officials expect to bring in $43 million during the next four years - enough to provide the missing funding for the construction of the first phase of the arts center.
But under the terms of the original venues plan, all of the arts center's funding must be in place before a dime of tourist tax goes to the Citrus Bowl. That means the second phase of the arts center comes first.
Preliminary projections from Orange County indicate the tourist tax could produce $20 million for the venues in 2015.
Orlando would likely build phase two on credit, just as a big chunk of phase one funding came from issuing bonds. The city would need about $7 million a year to make the annual payments for the construction of phase two.
That would leave as much as $13 million for the Citrus Bowl in 2015. Using that cash to issue bonds, it could be enough to fund about $130 million of the stadium's renovation.
Here's the problem: The tourist tax is so volatile the city can't sell bonds based on uncertain predictions of how much will be collected in future years. To build the first phase of the arts center, the city issued bonds based on the credit of the Downtown Community Redevelopment Agency, the newspaper said.
But the CRA can't issue more bonds, for either the second phase of the arts center or the Citrus Bowl. In effect, the CRA's credit card is maxed out.
Mayor Buddy Dyer has ruled out tapping general revenues, or even risking Orlando's good credit by issuing bonds based on the property taxes used for police, fire protection and other city services.
So, when it comes to the Citrus Bowl and phase two of the arts center, the city is like a worker who earns enough to afford house payments but can't get a mortgage.
"We've got the repayment source, but we don't have the credit source," Sutton said. "We've got to figure out something else."
Regardless, current projections show the first dollars won't be available until 2015, so there's time to study financing options, Sutton said.
LAWSUIT FUNDS COULD PROVIDE MONEY FOR CITRUS BOWL WORK
July 28, 2011
Copyright 2011 MediaVentures
Orlando, Fla. - Orange County could be close to reaching a deal that would provide a major
financial boost to the downtown arts center and Florida Citrus Bowl projects.
The Orlando Sentinel said the cash would come from a potentially multimillion-dollar
settlement in the county's long-running legal fight with a major online travel company over how hotel rooms sold through the Internet should be taxed.
County commissioners and other officials have been told during informal briefings that a proposed settlement agreement with the largest online travel company, Expedia, had emerged in the 4-year-old Orange County lawsuit.
But Comptroller Martha Haynie, who took a lead role in Orange's case, told the Sentinel no final deal has been reached.
The legal fight is over how much online travel companies should pay, an issue that spilled over into the Florida Legislature this year when lawmakers were asked to help shield the companies from taxes. Despite powerful supporters such as Walt Disney World, the measure failed.
County officials across the nation complain that companies such as Hotels.com, Expedia and Orbitz buy blocks of rooms in bulk from hoteliers and pay bed taxes on the reduced wholesale rate - instead of the higher retail rate they charge customers.
The companies say they are merely intermediaries, not hotels, and should not be subject to taxes on higher retail rates, which reflect the added services they provide. Local governments across the country have turned to the courts to resolve the dispute, and judicial rulings have cut both ways.
Previous estimates by Haynie as to what the county could be losing in lost hotel-tax revenues reached as high as $10 million a year. A legal victory on the dispute could mean "tens of millions" could be recouped, she said as recently as 2009.
However, Haynie said her most recent audits indicated that previous estimates were "too high."
Earlier this year, a judge sided with the online travel companies in the case, ruling that Orange was not entitled to an immediate judgment in its favor.
But a federal judge in Texas this month affirmed a $20 million jury award to local governments in a widely watched case that turned on similar issues there.
Haynie and other officials said a settlement could be a boost for the financially struggling effort to build a new performing-arts center. A drop in hotel-tax revenues delayed that $383 million project, forcing its backers to further delay construction on one of its three planned halls.
Arts center boosters led by Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer were able to break ground on the project last month, but only after a handful of deep-pocketed donors pledged to cover a $16 million funding shortfall, the newspaper said.
The aging Citrus Bowl is slated for $175 million in upgrades, but that face-lift can't begin until final funding is locked in place for the arts center.
Both projects were part of a larger $1.1 billion downtown-venue plan that city and county leaders voted for in 2007.
MAYOR SAYS NO TOURIST TAXES FOR CITRUS BOWL WORK
April 12, 2012
Copyright 2012 MediaVentures
Orlando, Fla. - Mayor Teresa Jacobs says she won't free up Orange County tourist taxes to start
$175 million in " Bowl renovations and that it might take private investors to make the project happen, according to the Orlando Sentinel.
"The solution may require an investment by stakeholders who will directly benefit from improvements to the " Bowl," Jacobs wrote in a memo sent to Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer, hoteliers and stadium leaders during the weekend.
But Jacobs also said she would allow work to begin before the ongoing construction of the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts is finished.
It's the latest twist in the quest to fund a face-lift for the 76-year-old stadium, which is home to the Capital One Bowl, Champs Sports Bowl, Florida Classic and other events but has no major-league sports tenant.
The project has stalled since it was approved five years ago, and sports boosters are worried about losing the bowl games if no plan emerges. Stadium supporters have been pressuring Jacobs to free up additional tourist-tax revenues.
Jacobs, however, rejected that notion in her memo and said the best path might involve scaling back the renovations, with supporters raising money from private sources or offering personal lines of credit to help secure the financing.
"Bowl Executive Director Steve Hogan said Jacobs' memo is "a productive beginning" to get the project started but said relying on private money to help fund a venue without an anchor tenant might not work.
In 2007, Orlando and Orange County leaders agreed to a landmark $1.1 billion deal to build a new arena for the Orlando Magic, a new downtown performing-arts center and to upgrade the " Bowl stadium.
But only the $487 million Amway Center arena was financed before the Great Recession hit a year later.
Tourist taxes were to pay a majority of cost, but a steep drop in tourism delayed the start of construction for the arts center and the stadium. The Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts was split into two phases, and the first is now under construction.
Stadium boosters have asked Jacobs to rework the deal to allow more tourist-tax revenue to flow to the " Bowl, especially in light of recent jumps in tax collections.
But in her memo, Jacobs says the county faces numerous obligations for the bed taxes, namely repaying the debt, upkeep and promotion of the Orange County Convention Center.
The biggest roadblock is the lack of credit, said Rebecca Sutton, the city's chief financial officer. Tourist-tax collections fluctuate too much to support bond financing. So, to finance the venues, the city so far has used the credit of the downtown Community Redevelopment Agency to issue bonds. County tourist taxes are then used to make the debt payments on those bonds.
But the CRA is now maxed out and has no more credit available to issue bonds. The city's overall financial health is good, but the Dyer administration won't issue bonds linked to the general budget that pays for services such as police and fire protection.
So even if tourist taxes flooded in, the city still wouldn't have a credit source to issue the bonds to finance the renovation.
ORANGE MAYOR WANTS MONEY TO GO TO CENTER, NOT STADIUM
May 10, 2012
Copyright 2012 MediaVentures
Orlando, Fla. - Mayor Teresa Jacobs wants to triple spending to maintain the Orange County
Convention Center, a plan that Florida Citrus Bowl boosters fear would dash hope of using tourist taxes to upgrade the 76-year-old stadium anytime soon.
She was backed days later by a County Commission vote that supported her and her suggestion that the stadium project be broken into pieces that could be undertaken over a longer period.
The Orlando Sentinel said a projected $175 million, five-year plan for the convention center would be paid for with recently rebounding tourist-tax revenues. It would include fresh paint and new carpets, roofing, technology, electric and air-conditioning systems.
Supporters of the Citrus Bowl hoped at least some of that bed-tax money could go to jump-start the delayed $175 million renovation of their facility.
"If you put all your eggs in one basket, you may exhaust your ability to react to all the other priorities in the community," said Steve Hogan, CEO of Florida Citrus Sports.
The dueling desires are about to collide as county leaders start to lock in future convention center spending, and stadium officials prepare for the next round of football bowl negotiations.
In 2007, Orlando and Orange County leaders agreed to a $1.1 billion deal to build a new arena for the Orlando Magic, a new downtown performing-arts center and stadium upgrades. But only the $487 million Amway Center was financed before the Great Recession hit at year's end.
The economic collapse and resulting drop in tourist-tax revenues delayed construction of the arts center and the work on the stadium, home to the Capital One Bowl, Champs Sports Bowl, Florida Classic and other events. The Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts was broken into two phases, and its private donors dug deeper, allowing the project to break ground last year.
The Citrus Bowl upgrades remain stalled, and boosters worry about losing bowl games.
Jacobs recently wrote to Hogan, Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer and hotel leaders to say she would not commit more tax money to do that and suggested private investors may be needed to make it work. Jacobs' main reason is that the convention center is a higher priority.
With more than 1.3 million visitors expected this year, the center's 2 million square feet of exhibit space is expected to generate more than $2 billion in economic impact. Opened in 1983, the center has expanded steadily until its final phase opened in 2003.
With a total of 7 million square feet under roof, the complex has 22 halls, a 2,643-seat theater, two full-service kitchens, three restaurants, eight food courts, 74 meeting rooms and 214 restrooms. During the past decade, about $10 million was spent per year to maintain and renovate all that. Jacobs wants to increase that up to $35 million annually for the next five years.
Tens of millions would be spent on new air conditioning, safety, roof and technology systems, some of which date to the early 1980s. Officials also want to add digital signs and expand Wi-Fi and cellular access.
The work could be critical in keeping conventioneers coming to Orlando, officials say. User surveys show the building is starting to look worn.
Hogan said he had more than bats and rust to worry about. The stadium, he said, needs more luxury and regular seating so conferences see it as an attractive place to play games.
The renovation plan, delayed three years now, calls for new lower-bowl seating; 4,000 club seats; 10 new suites; banquet space; a ballroom; and new restrooms, locker rooms and concession stands.
Any plan to pay for that faces several hurdles.
When leaders approved the $1.1 billion venues plan, they made sure the arts center would be fully funded before any tourist taxes flowed to the stadium. Jacobs said she would lift that bar, but even if that restriction were gone and hotel-tax collections stayed robust, the city cannot currently sell bonds for the Citrus Bowl.
Chief Financial Officer Rebecca Sutton has said that, since the recession, the market has soured on bonds for upgrades to a stadium that has no permanent tenant.
That 2007 deal also made sure plenty of money is annually set aside for the convention center's debt, upkeep and reserves.
That payment increases by 2 percent annually, even in years when tourist taxes plunge and no money at all is available for the venues. So in effect, the goal line moves further away every year.
Officials say the sudden surge in the center's renovation budget is necessary because of the facility's advancing age and to catch up on work after 2001 and 2007 recessions.