Where to Watch and Play Sports in Orlando
Located in Central Florida, Orlando sits in the crossroads of other metropolitan areas such as Miami, Tampa, and Jacksonville. This has created a unique sports landscape, as Orlando residents have no shortage of local sports teams.
Orlando Magic:The only "Big Four" sports team in Orlando entered the league in 1989, and has been home to some of the game's brightest stars including Shaquille O'Neal, Dwight Howard, Anfernee “Penny” Hardaway, Grant Hill, and Tracy McGrady. Now in their 24th season, the Magic have made the playoffs 14 times, highlighted by NBA Finals appearances in 1995 and 2009. After playing their first 21 seasons at the affectionately nicknamed “O-Rena,” the Magic moved to the shiny new Amway Center prior to the start of the 2010 season. (Ticket Info)
Orlando Predators: One of the most successful arena football franchises in existence, the Predators have missed the playoffs just twice since their inception in 1991. At one point, the Predators had made the playoffs 19 consecutive seasons, winning the ArenaBowl championship in 1998 and 2000 along the way. The Predators now play in the Amway Center alongside the Magic, with the arena scheduled to host Arena Bowl XXVI in August 2013. (Ticket Info)
University of Central Florida (UCF) Knights: While the Gators, Seminoles, and Hurricanes may dominate headlines on Saturdays in the fall, the UCF Knights have become a solid force in their own right, winning a pair of conference championships and reaching four bowl games since the 2007 season. The Knights played all of their home games at the Citrus Bowl until 2007, but have since re-located to their own digs on the UCF campus. (Ticket Info)
Golf:Florida is one of the ultimate golf destinations in the country, and Orlando is no exception. The city is the site of the famous Bay Hill Club and Lodge, which hosts the Arnold Palmer Invitationalevery March. The tournament is dominated by Orlando resident Tiger Woods, who has won the tournament eight times (most recently in 2013). Woods’ presence (and success) in the tournament has made Bay Hill a must-see event for any Florida-are golf fans.
Baseball:While Orlando does not boast a pro baseball team of their own, the city is the spring training home of both the Atlanta Braves (ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex) and the Houston Astros (Osceola County Stadium).
Bowl Games:Not many cities can claim average January temperatures in the 60s and 70s, but that’s why Orlando has become one of the most popular destinations for annual college football bowl games. The city (along with other warm-weather locales like San Diego and Phoenix) hosts two annual bowl games: the Capital One Bowl and the Russell Athletic Bowl.
For those looking to get into the action themselves, there are numerous options for recreational sports in Orlando. Orlando’s Recreation Division’s Athletic programoffers a number of sports leagues for adults, including basketball (May, September) and softball leagues (January, March, August). Budding athletes can also check out the Orlando Sport and Social Club, which combines sports with social events such as happy hours and bar crawls.