What is the Orange Bowl Committee?

If you’re a South Florida local, the name “Orange Bowl” likely sparks memories of green fields, cheering crowds, and classic college football. Behind the notoriety of the second-oldest bowl game in the country thrives the Orange Bowl Committee, a non-profit organization hard at work in South Florida communities since 1935.

With 360 active, senior and honorary members who comprise the who’s who of South Florida business, industry and sports, and an ever-expanding legacy of charitable contributions to the community, the Orange Bowl Committee is one of South Florida’s most notable and impactful organizations. Learn more about the committee at the heart of Miami for more than 85 years.

What is the Orange Bowl Committee?

In the early 1930s, Miami struggled under the weight of both the Great Depression and the land bust of 1925, sending the price of real estate soaring across the state. Inspired by the Pasadena Rose Bowl, an annual American college football bowl game, Miamians sought to replicate the event in the Southeast. Thus, the Orange Bowl was born.

In 1935, the official Orange Bowl Committee was founded by some of South Florida’s most influential leaders, with the mission of generating tourism and stimulating the local economy via sports games and supporting events. Today, the committee has expanded well beyond the Greater Miami area to become a pillar of South Florida culture. In addition to generating millions of dollars for the local economy each year, the Orange Bowl Committee establishes fundraising and scholarship efforts for Floridian youth. The organization elects new members on an annual basis with strict guidelines and expectations to ensure that the organization reflects the great diversity of the community, but a solid track record of powerful community leadership, humanitarianism and a track record of leadership industry, government or education is required to even be considered for nomination.

How Does the Orange Bowl Committee Give Back to South Florida?

The phrase “Orange Bowl” is synonymous with premier athletic competitions, such as the Capital One Orange Bowl and Orange Bowl Basketball Classic. The 2015–16 Orange Bowl Festival, which hosted the 2015 College Football Playoff Semifinal at the Capital One Orange Bowl, brought an estimated 80,000 visitors to South Florida. The event generated a total of $227.2 million in new economic impact and media exposure as well as more than $31 million in new taxes. Additionally, the South Florida non-profit organization supported more than 1,900 full and part-time jobs that generated $70 million in paid wages.

Beyond the millions of dollars brought in by the Orange Bowl Committee, the organization gives back to its community in several significant ways.

Empowering and Educating the Youth

The Orange Bowl Committee touches thousands of lives each year, especially the youth of South Florida. More than 13,000 football players and cheerleaders alone participate in the eight various leagues of the Orange Bowl Youth Football Alliance. The Orange Bowl is also home to international events for juniors in tennis, golf, and sailing, as well as the Junior Orange Bowl, a girls’ golf program, and track & field event.

The Committee dedicates time and resources to help students excel academically, introducing the Orange Bowl Leadership Academy to empower students to maximize their potential through career development, personal leadership, and life skills courses. In 2019, the Orange Bowl partnered with the College Football Playoff Foundation to fund Media Center Makeovers in three elementary schools.

Likewise, the South Florida non-profit organization hosts an annual Orange Bowl Florida High School Football Showcase to connect academically-qualified high school seniors with football coaches from NCAA Division II, III, and NAI programs from across the U.S. More than $1 million in collegiate football scholarships were earned from the inaugural Showcase alone.

Raising Awareness and Funds for Local Groups

With its membership including South Florida’s top executives, philanthropists, and pillars of the community, the Orange Bowl Committee routinely participates in fundraising events across the state. The annual Orange Bowl Food & Wine Celebration, for example, supports numerous organizations, including the Make-A-Wish Foundation, Big Brothers Big Sisters of America, and the Special Olympics.

The committee also hosts annual community programs, such as Kicks for Kids, a Creative Art Contest, and Family, Fun, and Fit Day. Thousands of South Floridians come out for these events, bringing together families and raising donations for low-income areas. The Orange Bowl Committee is assisted by nearly one thousand Orange Bowl “Ambassadors,” who are community volunteers that dedicate time and resources to the evolving Florida community.

Beautifying the Community and Recreational Park Areas

Orange Bowl Legacy Gifts enable South Florida’s premier philanthropists to make a direct impact on the community they care so deeply for. Since the committee’s inception, Orange Bowl Legacy Gift projects have granted nearly $16 million worth of improvements toward the beautification of local communities and park renovation projects. Each Legacy Gift consists of a public or non-profit partnership with various South Florida municipalities, in conjunction with the Cities of Miami, Fort Lauderdale, and Homestead; as well as Miami-Dade and Palm Beach Counties.

Who Serves On the Orange Bowl Committee?

The Orange Bowl Committee consists of 360 of South Florida’s most-respected pillars of the community. The current Orange Bowl Committee is headed by Jeff E. Rubin, President & Chair; John P. (Jack) Seiler, President-Elect; Frank Gonzalez, 1st Vice-Chair; and Yvonne Turner Johnson, M.D, 2nd Vice-Chair. Other notable Orange Bowl members include Ronald Albert Jr., partner with the law firm of Harper Meyer Perez Hagen Albert Dribin & DeLuca LLP, and Jeffrey S. Bartel, chairman and managing director of Hamptons Group, a real estate investment, private capital, and advisory firm headquartered in Coral Gables.

Members of the Orange Bowl Committee are often highly involved in serving the local community beyond the Committee. Jeffrey Bartel, for example, has chaired and helped lead some of South Florida’s most impactful local organizations, including the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce, Beacon Council, Camillus House, United Way, and Baptist Health Foundation.

The Future is Bright at the Orange Bowl

While many aspects of this year have been uncertain, one thing is for sure: the Orange Bowl Committee will continue to give back to the community they call home. As one of the largest South Florida non-profit organizations, the Orange Bowl Committee and their team of Ambassadors will remain a beacon of light both on and off the football field.

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Rachel Mcfarlane

Rachel Mcfarlane

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