Exploria Stadium - Cure Bowl
Photos by Chris Green, Stadium Journey
Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 4.14
Exploria Stadium 655 W Church St Orlando, FL 32805
Year Opened: 2017 Capacity: 25,500
Bowling in Sunny Orlando
The Cure Bowl has the unique distinction of being a football game that means more than the result on the field; all the proceeds from the annual bowl game at Exploria Stadium are donated to breast cancer research, to help find a cure for this deadly ailment. On top of that the game serves as a great escape from the cold of the north in the winter, to a tropical oasis in the south. Having moved in 2019 from its former home at Camping World Stadium to the home of Orlando City SC, Exploria Stadium, the game has a renewed feel that fits the event perfectly.
Food & Beverage 4
The food and beverages at Exploria Stadium for the Cure Bowl echo what you will find at Orlando Pride and Orlando City SC matches. The standards are all there from pizza to burgers, from hot dogs to nachos, and fans can choose from this traditional stadium fare. Additionally, the price of each item goes down by a few dollars if you are a member of the Orlando City fan club rewards program, or if you are a season ticket holder for Orlando City SC.
Exploria Stadium has concessions stands throughout the entirety of the main concourse on all sides during games, meaning you won’t usually have to wait too long or go too far to get something to eat or drink. Fans can expect to find other specialty items as well while at Exploria Stadium – a variety of sausages are available for $10 (chorizo, Tuscany, or hot Italian are all on the menu), and you can also find pulled pork that is topped with raspberry melba and cherry peppers that is served with chips and a pickle for $13. That same price will also get you juicy carved BBQ beef brisket with chips and a pickle. If you’re looking for a beverage, soft drinks run upwards from $5, and beer will cost you $8-$10.
Exploria Stadium itself is beautiful and easy to navigate. All around the concourse you can find people holding signs that say they can answer any questions you have. This means no matter how lost you get you can always find your way back. The stadium also utilizes a non-paper ticket method, meaning every ticket is digital – fans simply download the Orlando City or Ticketmaster app and access their tickets that way to get into the stadium.
Additionally, while the event’s former home at Camping World Stadium had the large stadium feel, the smaller crowds of the Cure Bowl tended to feel lost in the emptiness. Exploria Stadium is a beautiful facility that perfectly hosts this game; fans are practically right on top of the action, and they fill in a lot nicer as well. The Wall is still available for fans too, giving a unique opportunity for the right team’s rabid fan base to fill in the standing room only end zone, and create an atmosphere unlike any other in college bowl games.
What can you say about downtown Orlando? Exploria Stadium is literally a few blocks from the popular Church Street district, the hub of Orlando’s rebirth as a foodie and entertainment destination. The City of Orlando has become a sports-thirsty destination over the last few years – with the explosion in popularity of Orlando City SC and a renewed interest in the Orlando Magic and Orlando Solar Bears, the City Beautiful loves sports.
The immediate area around Exploria Stadium includes suburbs to the west and the downtown city center to the east. There are tons of hotels nearby, and since the stadium sits two blocks away from I-4, getting to other resorts and hotels in the greater Orlando area is not hard to do either. Fans can easily stay at the Crowne Plaza Orlando-Downtown, Grand Bohemian Hotel Orlando, or the Embassy Suites by Hilton Orlando Downtown, and still walk to the stadium with ease. Aside from those, there are numerous hotels and resorts in the Orlando area, both downtown and to the south towards the theme parks – Disney’s resorts, arguably the farthest from Exploria Stadium, are just 15 minutes away without traffic.
For local restaurants visit the Aku Aku Tiki Bar, Gringos Locos Tacos, and others. Or, if you want to see the sights Lake Eola Park is just a few blocks away – this park is an Orlando landmark that is also home to a weekly farmer’s market on Saturday mornings, and you can also find another quality farmer’s market on weekends outside of Exploria Stadium. Also, being in Orlando you are just a short drive from either Walt Disney World, Sea World, or the Universal Studios theme parks.
The atmosphere at the Cure Bowl is different from most, as all those in attendance are helping to contribute to a worthy cause. The crowd is smaller than some of those at bigger bowls – this is partially a result of the Cure Bowl tie-ins, which usually result in smaller schools from mid-level conferences being invited, with Troy and UTSA highlighting the most recent match-up.
Fans nonetheless can get a taste of the pageantry of bowl games. There is also plenty of beautiful scenery with downtown Orlando just to the east. Also, now in the smaller stadium the fans fill in a lot more, are closer to the action, and the sound is amplified inside Exploria Stadium.
Exploria Stadium, and all of Orlando’s professional sports stadiums downtown, are refreshingly easy to get to. Driving on I-4 you literally pass within a few yards of Amway Center, and can easily see Exploria Stadium just two blocks beyond, so not finding the facility is almost impossible. But if you do somehow get lost, signs all around downtown point the way to Exploria Stadium.
There is no parking garage nor any parking lots at Exploria Stadium itself, the site’s only major downside. The team owns and/or rents several lots in the area, however, and parking passes can be purchased (usually through third-party sellers) to park there. Amway Center's Geico Garage is also open for parking on game days. That said, there are also countless parking options in the lots and fields around Exploria Stadium on game day in every direction. The City of Orlando also sells parking passes at a special rate for games in various lots in and around downtown Orlando.
In addition to the parking there are several bus lines that pass by Exploria Stadium, and the hub for Orlando’s Lynx bus system is right downtown, a mere 10-minute walk from the stadium’s gates. Fans can also take the Sunrail train from the north and south, usually for free, on game days. There are also stations that drop you off right near Amway Center, so a walk from the station to Exploria Stadium is short. All of that said, if you get to Exploria Stadium and can’t find somewhere to park or an easy way to get there, you simply aren’t looking.
Once inside, fans should note that the facility uses a clear-bag policy, so bringing items into the game is going to be extremely limited.
Return on Investment 5
Tickets for the Cure Bowl are affordable compared to most games, starting at $37 for the end zone and $52-$82 for the sidelines, and with the money going back to a worthy cause, it’s hard to argue with why someone would want to attend this game. Getting the experience of a college bowl game is always enjoyable for sports fans in general, and getting to watch one in Florida in the winter makes it even better. Orlando is blessed with great weather, never too cold or too hot in December, meaning you will be comfortable no matter where you are from.
Exploria Stadium features 49 rainbow-colored seats in the lower bowl, as a tribute to the 49 lives lost in the Pulse Night Club shooting, and the game also has a mascot that roams the stadium and concourse greeting fans and young kids in attendance. The Supporters March is also something worth seeing whenever the Orlando Pride or Orlando City SC are playing in the stadium, but the Cure Bowl takes on a different approach to this tradition. Instead, the Cure Bowl organizes a survivor’s march to the stadium featuring cancer survivors instead of soccer fans. In addition, Exploria Stadium features various seating options and vantage points throughout the stadium for fans to watch from, including the Disney World Lion’s Den and Sun Pass seating.
If you are looking to attend a college bowl game in a place where the weather is great, the location is even better, and the cost is low, you can’t argue against the merits of the Cure Bowl. In addition, after the game you can walk away knowing that you helped donate to a worthy cause in trying to find a cure for breast cancer. Held at a world-class facility, the Cure Bowl at Exploria Stadium is a perfect mix of affordability, entertainment, and comfort wrapped into the perfect gift of a college bowl game.