Downtown Orlando: Citrus Bowl will be mostly new after renovation

Downtown Orlando; Citrus Bowl

The work that starts soon on Orlando’s Citrus Bowl is technically a renovation, but when the dust settles in just less than two years, about 80 percent of the stadium will be brand new.

Much of the stadium, which first opened in 1934, will be torn down, the City Council was told at a workshop this morning. The entire lower seating bowl will be demolished, leaving only the upper bowl standing high above the field. The work is expected to cost between $175 million and $200 million.

“This is an exciting time,” said Allen Johnson, the city’s venues director. “We really have an opportunity to develop a new stadium.”

After being stalled for years, Orlando officials are now in a big hurry to get started. City commissioners are expected to pick Turner Construction as the project’s general contractor this afternoon. Turner oversaw the construction of the Amway Center arena as the owner’s representative.

City officials have set an ambitious timetable for the Citrus Bowl renovation because they plan to shoehorn most of the demolition and reconstruction between the stadium’s signature events. The stadium hosts the Florida Classic in November, bowl games in December and January, and the popular Monster Jam motorsports event in late January.

The city expects to start preliminary construction — essentially ordering and prefabricating some materials — in October.

Then, once the winter events are over, demolition and reconstruction will start in February 2014 and be mostly finished in just nine months. Some work will be left unfinished until the bowl games and Monster Jam again wrap up in early 2015.

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