The Orange Bowl and the men and women in our community who work year ’round to make this event a success have become such an important part of South Florida that we often take them for granted, but we shouldn’t — as we shall see.
Over the years, the Orange Bowl has become identified with Miami and the Miami experience. It’s part of what makes Miami such a special place.
This year promises to be another major extravaganza, with the Orange Bowl Committee once again producing two of the biggest postseason football games at Sun Life Stadium, starting with the 79th Discover Orange Bowl on New Year’s Day pitting Northern Illinois versus Florida State.
On January 7 comes college football’s premier game at the same site, the BCS National Championship Game between the top-ranked teams in the country: No. 1, Notre Dame, and No. 2, Alabama.
This kind of exposure for South Florida cannot be measured merely in dollars and cents. It adds to the overall allure of South Florida , attracting attention from throughout the world, especially from fellow Americans thawing out from the latest northern cold snap.
Even so, the economic benefits are bountiful. The last time the Orange Bowl hosted two major bowl games, the economic impact was valued at more than $200 million, and it will doubtless be as strong this year. All sides share in these benefits.
• Each year, for example, the Orange Bowl provides nearly $1 million to youth sports programs, grants and scholarships, benefiting 16,000 kids. This funding is derived from revenues generated by Orange Bowl events
• Legacy gifts such as Moore Park in Allapattah, Carter Park in Fort Lauderdale and a future project in Ives Estates invest millions more dollars into the local community. These investments provide state-of-the-art facilities for children who otherwise might not have a safe haven for recreational activity.
• A number of other events are associated with the football games, either managed or supported by the Orange Bowl Committee.
They include the MetroPCS Orange Bowl Basketball Classic, Orange Bowl Youth Football Alliance presented by Sports Authority, Orange Bowl International Tennis Championships, Orange Bowl Sailing Regatta Series, Orange Bowl Paddle Championships, etc.
But here’s the rub: As with the Super Bowl, despite all the many things that South Florida has to offer, nothing is guaranteed. College football is making important changes to its National Championship/bowl schedule that will affect the future.
The National Championship game will become an open bid process starting with the 2014-15 game, for which the Orange Bowl and South Florida will be one of many bowls/cities competing.
The new four-team playoff system will have several benefits for South Florida, including a longer 12-year cycle that ensures Sun Life Stadium will host a national semifinal every three years — a total of four. The Orange Bowl was chosen as one of the sites for these games as a result of the community’s good record and the Committee’s hard work, but landing the national championship game will be extremely competitive.
Factors such as the overall game/destination experience, weather and facility will count for much. That will require the community putting its best foot forward. So welcome to all our visitors. Enjoy your stay. We’ll do our best to see you have a good experience. And please come back.