Orlando prepares for bowl game as COVID cases surge

Florida Citrus Sports expects 40,000 fans for the Cheez-It Bowl

ORLANDO, Fla. – The City Beautiful is getting ready for one of its major sporting events — the Cheez-It Bowl — which, despite COVID-19 cases on the rise, is planned to go on.

Steve Hogan, the CEO of Florida Citrus Sports, said safety regulations will be in place at Camping World Stadium.

“We’re gonna have very few restrictions for the fans. They’ll enjoy a normal experience as you otherwise would. Indoors where we’re close contact with our participants — our staff are vaccinated and/or masked or both in those environments and the same thing in the press level for our staff and working crew,” Hogan said. “We’re blessed that we play in an outdoor venue. You know, we’re not an arena.”

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Hogan said they expect about 40,000 fans to fill Camping World Stadium for the game. Fans for both Iowa State Cyclones and South Carolina’s Clemson Tigers on Wednesday will face off in a much-anticipated game.

A day before the game, dozens of fans met up at Pointe Orlando on International Drive to enjoy pep rallies, food, and music as they build up excitement for the game.

“I’ve been a fan my entire life. My dad went to Clemson, so I’ve gone to a game every year,” one fan said.

Pam Swales flew in from Des Moines, Iowa, to cheer on her team.

“We’ve been Cyclone fans for over 40 years,” Swales said. “(I’m) looking forward to this team doing really, really good. So, we’ve lost some of our players but that’s OK, we’re ready.”

She’s ready just like Emma Hooper from South Carolina.

“I’ve been a fan since the 60s. I’ve been to three national championships games. So, we love our coach and we don’t live far from Clemson, probably 30 miles, so we go to all the games,” Hooper said.

The college football event was founded in 1990 in Miami and in 2001 Florida Citrus Sports obtained the game’s certification and moved it to Orlando. It’s one of the two most important sporting events for the city that take place after Christmas.

“Inclusive of the Florida classic, both of our bowl games the Cheez-it bowl and the Vrbo Citrus Bowl, you’re looking at about $100 million a year in economic impact. And that’s huge especially coming out of the COIVD pandemic or at least attempting to,” Hogan said.


About the Author:

Carolina Cardona highlights all Central Florida has to offer in her stories on News 6 at Nine. She joined News 6 in June 2018 from the Telemundo station in Philadelphia.