NFL teams currently play in Miami, Tampa and Jacksonville, but if the folks at the Orlando Citrus Bowl get their way, a fourth Florida stadium will host NFL games beginning in 2017.
Steve Hogan, the CEO of Florida Citrus Sports, which oversees the newly renovated Citrus Bowl, told the Orlando Sentinel that he’s very confident the NFL will use the venue next year.
“I promise you, I guarantee you, we will have NFL football in this stadium in 2017 — one way or another,” Hogan said. “We’re absolutely focused on that and we’re going to be back in the [NFL] business.”
Preseason games have been played at the Citrus Bowl in the past, but Hogan wants regular season games.
“I’m not just talking about preseason games,” Hogan said. “Regular season games are also in play.”
Although Hogan said he has talked to all three Florida games, the Dolphins would almost certainly be out: Miami taxpayers just spent a lot of money to help renovate the Dolphins’ stadium, so it’s hard to imagine the Dolphins giving up a home game. The Buccaneers and Jaguars may be more open to considering it, but they’d risk alienating their Tampa and Jacksonville fans if they gave up a regular-season game to play in Orlando, which is about 90 miles northeast of Tampa and 150 miles south of Jacksonville.
On the other hand, the Bucs and Jaguars are both in the bottom quartile of the league in attendance, with each averaging less than 62,000 fans a game last season. If the 65,000-seat Citrus Bowl can bring in more ticket revenue, perhaps Jaguars owner Shad Khan or Buccaneers owner Bryan Glazer will consider it.