As a city known for its world-class theme parks, expansive resort options and thriving good scene, Orlando has a new dimension to add to its packed playbook: top-notch sporting events, venues and activities. Between the temperate weather of Central Florida and the steady influx of domestic and international visitors, Orlando welcomes fans of all kinds to get hyped over their favorite players and teams or join in and play themselves.
Orlando has been name of the top cities for soccer fans by Wallethub.com due to the low cost for tickets, engagement of fans and stadium capacity. MLS Team, Orlando City Soccer Club, plays March through October in the 25,000-seat EXPLORIA Stadium in downtown Orlando. Sharing the stadium is the Orlando Pride, Orlando’s women’s soccer team, which plays April through October. In addition to MLS and NWSL games, Orlando is a regular host of international matches including The Florida Cup, an annual tournament, which in January 2020 featured two São Paulo, Brazil teams: Corinthians and Palmerias, Colombia’s Athletico Nacional and New York City FC.
For football and international soccer fans, the 75,000-seat Camping World Stadium in downtown Orlando gives visitors a superb spectator experience. The VRBO Citrus Bowl, The Florida Blue Florida Classic and the Orlando Kickoff are all played at the Camping World Stadium. The Camping World Bowl, originally known as the Blockbuster Bowl, features teams from the ACC & Big 12 conferences.
The 2020 NFL Pro Bowl presented by Verizon returned to Orlando’s Camping World Stadium on Jan. 26, 2020, marking the fourth consecutive year that the Theme Park Capital of the World® hosted this popular matchup of top NFL players. The ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at Walt Disney World® Resort hosts the NFL Pro Bowl Experience, which is a free football festival with a wealth of activities for the whole family leading up to the Pro Bowl game.
The NBA’s Orlando Magic is the city’s most famous sports team. Fans can find them at home games October through April in the amenity-loaded Amway Center, an 18,846-seat venue, and one of the most technologically advanced in the world. Offering VIP appointments like mid-level luxury and club seating, a stunning art collection, massive scoreboard and several restaurants and bars, the flexible venue is an inviting space for diehard fans and celebrities alike to cheer for Orlando teams.
In addition to the Magic, the Amway Center is home to the Orlando Solar Bears, an affiliate of the NHL’s Tampa Bay Lightning and members of the ECHL, the premier “AA” hockey league in North America. In seven seasons of operation, the team has qualified for the Kelly Cup Playoffs five times. Regular season runs November through April.
Orlando has a long history of golf lovers choosing the area for their retreats, vacations and retirement homes. Arnold Palmer – one of the world’s most beloved golfers – not only started his own resort and golf course in Orlando but founded the Golf Channel here. Arnold Palmer’s Bay Hill Club & Lodge is just one of more than 150 golf courses in the Orlando area, many from celebrated course designers, and some featuring academies helmed by nationally recognized instructors. Major tournaments call Orlando home including the Arnold Palmer Invitational golf tournament, which benefits the Arnold Palmer Children’s Hospital in Orlando, and The Diamond Resorts Tournament of Champions, an official LPGA event held at Tranquilo Golf Course at Four Seasons Golf and Sports Club Orlando.
Both casual and competitive golfers will love Orlando’s variety of golf entertainment venues. Centrally located on International Drive, Top Golf Orlando is a state-of-the-art golf range facility, with three-levels and 102 climate-controlled hitting bays for up to six players each. Nearby Orlando International Airport and Orlando’s Medical City, Drive Shack Orlando offers 90 full service all weather bays and unlimited golf balls.
In 2017, Orlando became the new home of American tennis, when the United States Tennis Association (USTA) opened a campus in the Lake Nona area of Orlando. The 63-acre (25.5-hectare) complex encompasses more than 100 courts (hard and clay) and a multi-use building with a pro shop, fitness center, locker rooms, cafeteria and players’ lounge.
For intercollegiate sports enthusiasts, the University of Central Florida; members of the American Athletic Conference; and Rollins College, an NCAA Division II school in Winter Park; offer a full slate of athletic event spectator opportunities at top-notch arenas and stadiums.
In 2019, Orlando’s Full Sail University opened the largest on-campus collegiate esports arena in the U.S. The arena, known as The Fortress, accommodates 100 esport athletes playing simultaneously, with over 500 spectators watching live.
Racing through a theme park gains new meaning through participating in of the unique running events at Orlando’s world-famous theme parks. With castle views, character interactions and a race that raises money for conservation, a medal has never been so rewarding.
- runDisney hosts four race weekends throughout the year that include 5ks, 10ks, half and full marathon options. Race participants run through the Disney parks and can celebrate at the end by enjoying a Disney vacation. runDisney is one of the most popular race organizers in the United States, with more than 188,000 runners participating in events throughout the year.
- Universal Orlando Resort’s Inaugural Epic Character Race 5K and 10K gives runners an opportunity to race through two parks and meet characters like Minions from the “Despicable Me” and velociraptor Blue from “Jurassic World.”
- SeaWorld’s Rescue Run! benefits the SeaWorld & Busch Gardens Conservation Fund and offers runners an exclusive Killer Whale Educational presentation following the race.
Find more sports events on the Visit Orlando Events Calendar.
About Visit Orlando
Visit Orlando is The Official Tourism Association® for Orlando, the most visited destination in the United States and Theme Park Capital of the World®. A not-for-profit trade association that brands, markets and sells the Orlando destination globally, Visit Orlando represents 1,200 member companies comprising every segment of Central Florida’s tourism community.