U.S. Markets closed

Pro Bowl officially will return to Orlando in 2018, NFL announces

The NFL seems to like Orlando as its new home for the Pro Bowl.

The Pro Bowl will make a return appearance in Orlando next season, the NFL announced. The Pro Bowl moved from its normal home of Hawaii to Orlando last season, and the league was obviously happy with the results. The 2018 Pro Bowl will be at Camping World Stadium on Sunday, Jan. 28.

The first Pro Bowl in Orlando got positive reviews. There were 60,834 fans in attendance, which had to please the league. Finding a new venue doesn’t erase the well-worn complaints about the competitiveness of the game itself, but finding the right host is a big step.

It’s also a big deal for Orlando, which gets its own piece of the NFL pie.

“We are excited to bring Pro Bowl Week back to our community,” Florida Citrus Sports CEO Steve Hogan said in a release. “This year’s sold-out game was a landmark moment for Orlando and our reputation as a preferred destination for world-class sporting events. We became an NFL city for a week last season and look forward to making the 2018 Pro Bowl bigger and better.”

Now that Orlando will host back-to-back Pro Bowls, it seems like we’re trending toward central Florida being the game’s new regular host. Hawaii had that honor for decades, but it probably was the victim of the shrinking interest in the game itself. The NFL probably won’t be able to figure out a way to make the game interesting again but it could tinker with everything around the game, such as the host city. Orlando is easier for most people to travel to, so it should have a better chance at consistently filling up its stadium for the Pro Bowl. Putting the game in a big city that doesn’t have its own NFL team helps too, because the novelty of hosting the Pro Bowl shouldn’t wear off for a while.

The NFL will have a hard time giving up on the Pro Bowl, because it does pretty good television ratings (even if they’re dipping). The league will continue to work on ways to improve the game, but at least the NFL has a host city it likes.

Doug Baldwin scores a touchdown in last season’s Pro Bowl. (AP)


– – – – – – –

Frank Schwab is the editor of Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at shutdown.corner@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!