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Sports & Leisure in Orlando

Orlando is home to the Orlando Magic, an NBA pro basketball franchise that plays at The Arena in Orlando in downtown Orlando. The team made it to the NBA Finals in 1995. The Amway Arena, originally known as the O-Rena, has become a topic of local political debate. Opened in 1989, The Arena in Orlando is one of the oldest arenas in the NBA. It will be replaced by 2010 by the $480-million New Orlando Magic Arena.

Orlando Sport & Leisure
Football and Ice Hockey in Orlando.

The Orlando Predators of the Arena Football League also play at The Arena in Orlando. Since joining the league in 1991, they have become one of the legendary franchises in the young league, having an infamous rivalry with the Tampa Bay Storm, two ArenaBowl titles (1998 and 2000), and several historic moments including the league's only shutout to date and a procession called the Miracle Minute where they scored two touchdowns with two-point conversions and forced a safety to come from behind in the final minute of a game to win.

Orlando was a stronghold of minor-league ice hockey throughout the 1990s, being home of the Orlando Solar Bears of the now-defunct International Hockey League. Historically successful, they won the Turner Cup championship in 2001 to end the IHL's final season. In 2002, the Atlantic Coast Hockey League formed with Orlando forming one of the charter franchises, the Orlando Seals, which won their Commissioner's Cup in 2003. They moved to the World Hockey Association 2 in 2003, then the Southern Professional Hockey League in 2004. The City of Orlando revoked their lease for The Arena in Orlando, forcing them to sit out the 2004-05 season. They moved to Kissimmee and became the Florida Seals in November 2004.

The Citrus Bowl is the home of the Capital One Bowl (formerly the Florida Citrus Bowl) and the Champs Sports Bowl (formerly the Tangerine Bowl). It also hosts regular-season football games for the University of Central Florida (NCAA Division I-A) and Jones High School, as well as the annual Florida Classic played between the NCAA Division I-AA Football teams from Florida A&M University and Bethune-Cookman College. It hosted soccer games for the FIFA World Cup '94 and the 1996 Summer Olympics when each were hosted by the United States.

The Orlando Renegades were a USFL team playing at the Citrus Bowl in 1985. They folded with the league in 1986. The Orlando Thunder was a charter team in the World League of American Football in 1991 and 1992. They lost the World Bowl to the Sacramento Surge in 1992. Like all other American teams, it was dropped in the World League reorganization of 1995. The Orlando Rage was a member of the XFL that played at the Citrus Bowl, and only played in 2001. That team has since been revived in the minor-league Southern States Football League (SSFL).

The Citrus Bowl was also the home of the fictional NFL team, the Orlando Breakers, which was featured in the last two seasons of the television sitcom Coach. The team was a plot device to reflect the 1995 addition of the Jacksonville Jaguars to the real-life NFL.

Soccer and Baseball in Orlando.

Orlando will gain an expansion franchise in the Major Indoor Soccer League for the 2007 - 2008 season. Orlando also will receive an expansion franchise in the American Basketball Association for the 2006-07 season. The team has been named the Orlando Aces. The Orlando Lions were a member of the third incarnation of the American Soccer League in the late 1980s/early 1990s. The Orlando Sundogs were a minor-league soccer team in the A-League that played in the Citrus Bowl.

They were disbanded in 1997 after only playing one year. Presently, two lower-division association football (soccer) teams call Orlando home: the Premier Development League's (PDL) Central Florida Kraze, and Ajax Orlando. The Kraze won the PDL Championship in 2004, while Ajax (pronounced EYE-acks) is the only American subsidiary of global soccer power Ajax Amsterdam of the Dutch Eredivisie (professional soccer league).

Tinker Field, named for baseball hall-of-famer Joe Tinker, is a historic baseball stadium next to the Citrus Bowl, currently out of use. It was formerly the spring training home of the Minnesota Twins (and the Washington Nationals/Senators before them) and AA Southern League affiliates of the Twins, Chicago Cubs and Tampa Bay Devil Rays.

The Disney's Wide World of Sports Complex has the Ballpark at Disney's Wide World of Sports (Cracker Jack Stadium) situated in it, it is the baseball stadium that is currently used in Orlando. The spring training home of the Atlanta Braves, it played host to the games of the Pool D teams in the 2006 World Baseball Classic.

Serious talk has been made on bringing Major League Baseball to Orlando. Current mayor Buddy Dyer said he would like to see it in the future. Orlando was a finalist city in the expansion for the 1993 season. Ironically, they were mentioned as a possible destination for one of the 1993 expansion teams, the Florida Marlins, during that team's investigation of new locations should Miami fail to build them a new baseball stadium. In addition, the Tampa Bay Devil Rays are hoping to play a series at Disney's Wide World of Sports during the 2007 season.

Meanwhile, on September 7, 2006, it was announced that a local investment group had bought the Class-AA West Tenn Diamond Jaxx. They intend to bring the team to Orlando after the last two years of the team's current lease in Jackson, Tennessee, elapse, but further details will not be broached until the sale is finalized.

TNA Wrestling has its TNA Impact pro wrestling show at the Universal Studios in Orlando. It also holds a lot of its PPV events from there as well.

There is a huge rumor regarding WWE hosting their pay-per-view worldwide event WrestleMania 24 in 2008.This will mark the first time in history that WrestleMania has ever come to Orlando.

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