ORLANDO, Fla. – The Alabama Crimson Tide will play the Louisville Cardinals in the Orlando Citrus Bowl during college football’s opening weekend in 2018. The neutral-site season opener is part of an annual series of Orlando Kickoff games.
The 2018 matchup is the second announced game in a multi-year agreement between Florida Citrus Sports (FCSports) and ESPN Events, a division of ESPN, to host major neutral-site, regular-season college football games in the Orlando Citrus Bowl. The Orlando Citrus Bowl is already home to the Buffalo Wild Wings Citrus Bowl, Russell Athletic Bowl and Florida Blue Florida Classic games. Neither school has played in the stadium since its near complete reconstruction a year ago.
“This game continues a trend of big-time events landing in the brand-new Orlando Citrus Bowl Stadium,” said FCSports President Harold Mills. “Alabama and Louisville is a great matchup to start the 2018 season and yet another reason to become a season ticket member of our organization — to get access to premium seats for games like this.”
“We are thrilled to have the Alabama Crimson Tide and the Louisville Cardinals play in the Orlando Citrus Bowl to open the 2018 college football season,” said Pete Derzis, Senior Vice President, ESPN Events. “This game has all the makings to be not only a quality matchup of two great college football programs, but also serve as a wonderful experience for the student-athletes and fans.”
The Tide and Cardinals have met just three times previous, with the most recent tilt coming in 1991 and Alabama leading the all-time series, 2-1.
To date, Alabama has played twice in Orlando, with this being its first neutral-site regular-season game in The City Beautiful. It won the 1995 CompUSA Florida Citrus Bowl, 24-7, over Ohio State, and was victorious in the 2011 Capital One Bowl, 49-7 over Michigan State.
“The 2018 game will mark the seventh consecutive neutral-site season opener for the Crimson Tide,” said Director of Athletics Bill Battle. “Neutral-site games have been good for Alabama in national exposure as well as financially under Coach Saban’s leadership. Our first regular-season neutral-site game in Orlando will provide another great matchup of national interest against an excellent Louisville program, but is also a new venue that I believe our fans will enjoy.”
This will be the first neutral-site regular-season game for the Cardinals in Orlando as well. Their lone prior contest at the Orlando Citrus Bowl came in the 2013 Russell Athletic Bowl, a 36-9 win over Miami.
“Kicking off the 2018 season with a great opponent like Alabama is a tremendous way to start the season,” said Louisville Athletics Director Tom Jurich. “We continually want to play highly respected opponents each year, and adding a traditional power like Alabama in the opener will certainly be an outstanding challenge. We have a vision to be the best we can be, and to do that, we have to play the best. We are also thrilled to be headed back to a destination city like Orlando. I know our fan base will respond for this tremendous match-up.”
Tickets will go on sale in late 2017, with Florida Citrus Sports members getting priority access as they do for the annual bowl games and for the 2016 Orlando Kickoff game between Florida State and Ole Miss. For membership information, call 407.423.2476 or go to http://www.floridacitrussports.com/membership.
About Florida Citrus Sports
Florida Citrus Sports (FCSports) is a not-for-profit membership organization dedicated to increasing community spirit and pride, promoting tourism, stimulating economic development and ultimately benefiting charities, educational institutions and the quality of life in Central Florida through world-class events including the Buffalo Wild Wings Citrus Bowl and the Russell Athletic Bowl. For more information, visit FCSports.com.
About ESPN Events
ESPN Events, a division of ESPN, owns and operates a large portfolio of collegiate sporting events worldwide. The roster includes three Labor Day weekend college football games; 13 college bowl games, nine college basketball events and two college award shows, which accounts for approximately 250-plus hours of programming, reaches almost 64 million viewers and attracts over 700,000 attendees each year. With satellite offices in Boca Raton, Boise, Birmingham, Dallas-Fort Worth, Albuquerque, St. Petersburg and Las Vegas, ESPN Events builds relationships with conferences, schools and local communities, as well as providing unique experiences for teams and fans.
ESPN Events also manages the Big 12 Corporate Partner Program.