ORLANDO, FL — With Major League Soccer (MLS) and the National Basketball Association (NBA) approving measures to resume their ongoing seasons, ‘The City Beautiful’ of Orlando, Florida has become the new sports capital of the world during COVID-19.
Better known as the home of Disney and the Magic Kingdom, this central Florida resort city once better known a retirement haven for Northern snowbirds has gradually morphed into one of the biggest sports and entertainment locales in the world thanks to the aforementioned Walt Disney, the nationally-ranked University of Central Florida Knights football program and their high-octane up-tempo offense, the Orlando Magic, Orlando City SC and the Orlando Pride of the NWSL.
The NFL’s Pro Bowl is also held at Camping World Stadium and has often been used as a potential carrot in luring a team to the 407. Thanks to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, two major sports leagues—in the form of MLS and NBA—will be quarantining in a so-called “bubble” in the greater Orlando area and deciding their respective sports championships at both the ESPN Wide World Of Sports complex at Disney and at Orlando City SC’s Exploria Stadium.
While it is a real shame that a who’s who of sports athletes and personalities such as LeBron James, Kawhi Leonard, James Harden, Zion Williamson from the NBA and MLS superstars such as Josef Martinez (Atlanta United), Chicharito (Los Angeles Galaxy), Carlos Vela (Los Angeles FC) and Orlando’s own hometown hero, Nani won’t have the chance to play in front of crowds in their home markets, nor fans in the greater Orlando area get the chance to get a glimpse of them in person.
While sports is inching closer to a permanent return in a city that prides itself on its beauty and being one of the happiest places on earth, while the backdrop and circumstances may not be ideal, Orlando is now Ground Zero for sports in America and about to get it’s closeup.