NFL, ESPN Look To Continue The Magic In Orlando To Build All-Star Pro Bowl Game
Thursday, May 25, 2017 at 01:35PM in Camping World, ESPN, NFL, NFL, Pro Bowl, sports marketing

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May 24, 2017: Based on reaction to the 2017 game, the NFL will continue to build and enhance its annual all-star game — better known as the Pro Bowl — with various activation, media and marketing efforts in 2018.

The Pro Bowl is scheduled for Sunday, Jan. 28, 2018 in Camping World Stadium, the second consecutive time Orlando will host the game and surrounding events under a three-year deal signed in 2016.

"We became an NFL city for a week last season and look forward to making the 2018 Pro Bowl bigger and better," Steve Hogan, CEO for Florida Citrus Sports, said in a statement.

The annual match-up of AFC vs. NFC stars will air on ESPN and be simulcast on ABC for the first time, which also marks the first Pro Bowl telecast on ABC in 15 years.

Although sponsors are planning for the game — which takes place a week before Super Bowl LII in U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis on Feb. 4, 2018 — a presenting sponsor for the upcoming game has not yet been disclosed.

The 2017 Pro Bowl was presented by Aquafina.

The 2016 Pro Bowl was presented by USAA.

The 2015 Pro Bowl was presented by McDonald’s.

"The Pro Bowl is not only a time to watch NFL greats compete live, but it is also a unique opportunity to inspire youth and the next generation of stars," Peter O’Reilly, NFL svp-events, said in a statement.

"We received tremendous feedback from players, coaches, and fans about Orlando’s first Pro Bowl, and we are excited to build upon that enthusiasm with a week-long festival that celebrates the entire football community," said O’Reilly.

According to the NFL, Pro Bowl 2018 would follow the traditional AFC versus NFC match-up, which returned last season, and feature 88 of the best NFL players — 44 from each conference — as determined by a consensus of votes by fans, players, and coaches. Both teams will be led by offensive and defensive NFL Legends who will serve as captains representing each conference.

The attendance at the 2017 Pro Bowl on Jan. 29 was 60,834.

The game on ESPN averaged 7.4 million viewers, the lowest figure for the Pro Bowl since 2007 (7 million viewers), but was the most-watched program on cable that evening and finished fourth overall among all network and cable shows for the night, according to ESPN.

According to Burke Magnus, ESPN evp-programming acquisitions and scheduling, "The Pro Bowl has become a fun, week-long event that celebrates the game of football and the NFL’s top players. We’re excited to return to Orlando to showcase the NFL’s best on ESPN and ABC."

ESPN’s Monday Night Football commentator team of Sean McDonough, Jon Gruden and reporter Lisa Salters will call the Pro Bowl. The game will be preceded by a special Postseason NFL Countdown pre-game show on ESPN and ABC.

ABC previously televised the game 22 times (1975-87 and 1995-2003), while ESPN has carried the game on 14 occasions: 1988-94, 2004-06, 2010 and 2015-17.

In Orlando, the Pro Bowl has turned into a week-long event involving sponsors, fans and the community.

Among other events, Orlando will again host the NFL Flag Championships Powered by USA Football, the unveiling of the Don Shula NFL High School Coach of the Year and the annual USA Football National Conference, one of the largest congregation of youth and high school football administrators and coaches in the country.

In addition, Pro Bowl players will again be able to invite their former youth or high school coach to be a part of the week’s celebrations.

"Hosting Orlando’s inaugural NFL Pro Bowl at Camping World Stadium earlier this year was not only fun, but it was a resounding success for our Central Florida community," said Orlando mayor Buddy Dyer said in a statement.

"We became an NFL city for a week last season and look forward to making the 2018 Pro Bowl bigger and better."

"We enthusiastically welcome our NFL partners back in 2018. Their confidence in our city's ability to put on such a high-profile event underscores our reputation as one of the premier sports destinations in the U.S.," said Dyer.

Prior to Orlando hosting the game earlier this year, Aloha Stadium in Hawaii was the site of the Pro Bowl from 1980–2009, 2011–2014, and 2016.

The game long was held the week after Super Bowl, but was moved to week before in 2010 in then Sun Life (now Hard Rock) Stadium (Jan. 31, 2010) to coincide with Super Bowl XLIV in Sun Life on Feb. 7.

In 2015, it was played in the University of Phoenix Stadium on Jan. 25 to coincide with Super Bowl XLIX on Feb. 1 in the same stadium.

The NFL said that events during Pro Bowl Week are set to include the Pro Bowl Skills Showdown (testing the athletic prowess of All-Stars from each conference in unique competitions) and the NFL Pro Bowl Experience, a free football festival located at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at Walt Disney World Resort.

Pro Bowl practices for the AFC and NFC teams will also be held at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex, allowing fans to watch their favorite players as they prepare for the game.

The NFL Foundation will continue its longstanding Pro Bowl Grant Program and organize community events to benefit residents and the surrounding region.

Last year, the NFL Foundation provided a Pro Bowl Grant to LIFT Orlando to fund the refurbishment of a multi-purpose "PLAY 60 Field" at Lake Lorna Doone Park.

"We are excited to bring Pro Bowl Week back to our community," said Florida Citrus Sports' Hogan. "This year’s sold-out game was a landmark moment for Orlando and our reputation as a preferred destination for world-class sporting events.

Tickets for the Pro Bowl will go on sale to the public in the fall.

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