ORLANDO, Fla. – For its third and final bowl game of the 2020 football season, Orlando hosted Northwestern and Auburn for the VRBO Citrus Bowl.
Camping World Stadium previously hosted the Cheez-It Bowl and the Cure Bowl in December.
This game, like all the bowl games in Central Florida, required major adjustments for safety precautions, including social distancing markers, limited seating, and masks required throughout.
Signs outside the stadium remind fans of the rules, while outdoor ambassadors handed out masks to those who needed them and as a replacement for those with neck gaiters, which were not permitted.
Steve Hogan serves as the CEO at Florida Citrus Sports.
“All those things we’ve become accustomed to seeing in a grocery store, you’re going to see in a stadium environment,” Hogan said.
Hogan points to the NBA and MLS bubbles at Disney as some of the proof of Orlando’s success when it comes to showing sports safely.
“I think these bowl games, although an economic impact will be felt, the broadcast to the country about how Orlando is safely open for business,” he said. “I think it is a powerful message.”
Capacity inside the stadium was capped at about 20%, which amounts to about 13,000 fans.
Proud Northwestern parents Andre and Jennifer Kirtz couldn’t wait to soak it all in after flying down from Indiana.
“It’s exciting since we haven’t been able to see our son since COVID-19 began,” Jennifer Kirtz said. “They haven’t been able to be around their parents so it’s been a while that we’ve been able to really see him except on the field.”
Tailgating was technically forbidden at the stadium as part of safety precautions; however, it didn’t stop the local Auburn alumni club across the street from celebrating.
For some, it was their first chance at seeing the Tigers play in person this season.
“I was so excited, “Auburn alumnus Brianna Williams said. “As soon as I found out it was in Orlando, I looked at my husband and said, ‘we got to go.’ We haven’t been to any games, and this is our one chance.”
Auburn alumnus Ken Porter pointed out that limited tickets at Auburn’s Jordan-Hare Stadium made it difficult for many to obtain tickets during the regular season.
“For bowl games like these, it gives everyone a chance to get tickets and see a game for those who weren’t able to attend a game at home this year,” he said.