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Sold-out, revamped Pro Bowl makes debut in Orlando

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ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) So much for the notion that the Pro Bowl is a game few people find interesting enough to watch on television, let alone in person.

Sunday night's All-Star event not only was announced as a sellout two days before kickoff, but the NFL also said a supply of standing-room-only tickets quickly sold for $20 each, too.

Orlando hopes such support for the game, played in 75,000-seat Camping World Stadium, bolsters its effort to become permanent home for the annual e4nd-of-the year showcase, which has reverted to a NFC vs. AFC format.

The city had events such as the Pro Bowl in mind when it rebuilt about 90 percent of an aging stadium at a cost of more than $207 million. The facility west of downtown is also home to three college bowl games and was the site of the Atlantic Coast Conference championship game in December.

Interest in the Pro Bowl has waned in recent years, with critics noting the game lacks the intensity of regular season games and barely resembles real football because of special rules put in place, in part, to minimize the potential of injuries to players.

The squads - minus Tom Brady, Matt Ryan and the other All-Star selections from the New England Patriots and Atlanta Falcons who'll be playing in next Sunday's Super Bowl, practiced at nearby Disney World as the event was transformed into more of a weeklong celebration, which included a revamped skills competition that included a dodge ball match.

The week was not all fun and games, though.

Members of the winning team receive $61,000. The losing squad pockets $30,000 apiece.


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