Gridiron Classic moving to retirement community

Updated: August 6, 2003, 12:38 PM ET

ORLANDO, Fla. -- The Gridiron Classic college football all-star game will have a new home -- moving from the Florida Citrus Bowl to a retirement community.

The Villages, a sprawling 33,000-resident development in Lady Lake, about 40 miles from Orlando, will host the sixth annual game Jan. 31. The Gridiron Classic matches college seniors with Florida roots against players from the rest of the nation.

"The ink's a little wet, but it's a done deal," said Steve Hogan, properties director for the game's organizer, Florida Citrus Sports.

Bleachers will be erected on the community's two polo fields to accommodate 10,000-20,000 fans.

The Florida Citrus Bowl seats 70,188, and swallows the game's small crowds. Attendance has dropped every year, bottoming out at 9,375 last January.

The Villages PBA Open was held in the community two years ago, and in 1998 the LPGA's Samsung World Championship took place at the Tierra Del Sol Golf Course.

The Villages replaces Rotary International as the game's title sponsor. The Rotary will be a secondary sponsor.


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