NFL Pro Bowl Week Kicks Off With Community Grant Event at Lake Lorna Doone Park
On Tuesday afternoon, the NFL joined the City of Orlando, LIFT Orlando and Florida Citrus Sports at Lake Lorna Doone Park, unveiling plans to refurbish the park’s multi-purpose field through a Pro Bowl Community Grant. The field will be renamed the “NFL PLAY 60 Field,” and help create additional spaces for local youth to get active and PLAY 60. It is also the first public partnership in Florida Citrus Sports’ commitment to redevelop all of Lake Lorna Doone Park through collaboration with LIFT Orlando and the residents of West Lakes.
“We heard when we came down here for the first time about LIFT [Orlando],” said NFL Senior Vice President of Events Peter O’Reilly. “We heard about this notion of regenerating a community in the shadow of this stadium and all of the work and all of the energy that people in this room and this community are putting behind that. I said ‘We have to be a part of this. We have to play our small role in helping to bring that vision to life.’”
That vision includes a total redevelopment of the park in the shadow of Camping World Stadium. The design for the park is being developed by West Lakes residents with support from JACOBS. At the announcement, Florida Citrus Sports CEO Steve Hogan highlighted the importance of the park to West Lakes, underscoring how the NFL’s legacy gift keeps a tradition-rich asset fresh for the community.
“For generations, this park has played a special role in the minds of the people that live around it,” said Hogan. “This field sits on the site of the first integrated Little League baseball game played in the South, right here in little Lake Lorna Doone Park.
“Those historical markers and those moments in time are going to find a place here in this renovated park to tell that story for years to come and we’re proud of that.”
Also on hand for the event were Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer, high school football players from Jones and Maynard Evans High School and the four Pro Bowl Legends Captains: Ray Lewis, Jerome Bettis, Tony Gonzalez and Charles Woodson.
A Lake Nona resident, Woodson praised Orlando as a host city.
“What I do know is that Florida Citrus Sports, Mayor Buddy Dyer, Camping World Stadium and the NFL have gone out of their way to make this a once in a lifetime opportunity for those players and we hope they all have a good time,” Woodson said. “We know that Orlando has a lot to offer and I’m certain that the guys will have a good time being down here.”
“The most important thing that they do, the challenge, is what kind of legacy or what kind of imprint do you leave on the community that you’ve just taken over,” the Super XLV champion and nine-time Pro Bowl selection added.
The week, which culminates on Sunday evening with the 2017 NFL Pro Bowl, features an unparalleled amount of youth and high school football events mixed in with the practices and Skills Showdown featuring the NFL stars. A change that could not fit in any better with the city of Orlando.
“When you look at that roster of things that are kicking off starting today, you have every element of the football community coming together here in Orlando,” said O’Reilly. “What is a more family-friendly, youth-friendly town to showcase—with incredible facilities like Camping World Stadium, with incredible facilities like ESPN’s Wide World of Sports—to showcase the best of our game all in one location across a week?”
Representing Florida Citrus Sports, the West Lakes communities and the entire Orlando community, Hogan echoed the community’s excitement for the game.
“I would like to thank the NFL for choosing Orlando,” said FCSports CEO Hogan. “Peter [O’Reilly] took a chance on us and we’re going to our put on a great show. I think the community hopefully has shown that we are going to give everything we have this week to be hopefully the best destination ever to host the NFL Pro Bowl.