It was a heavy, consistent sound. As I stood in the bowels of the Orlando Citrus Bowl the rumbling seemed to march into my ears from every crack in the wall or space beneath a door. Had I been blissfully unaware of what was about to occur, that noise might have evoked a sense of fear. Instead, my eyes had already begun to well.
I look to my left and see the clock. Not your standard white face with black hands. One of those, red, ominous digital clocks whose countdown always seems to bear a purpose. It was almost time. As I started to jog toward the tunnel, I notice that I’m not alone. Security guards, locker room attendants, some of my fellow employees, people who all have things to do in other places are headed toward that deafening din. We were all moths to a flame. The allure of that crowd was just irresistible.
With each step, the sounds became crisper. Clip. The drums. Clap. The chants. By the time I hit the pitch the sound enveloped me. Then, the one thing that I remember so clearly, so vividly — I looked up. Purple. Purple from floor to sky. My head started to turn and my body followed as I spun two, three, four times — just taking it all in. My eyes that had started to well just minutes before? They broke.
It was March 8th, 2015 and 62,510 had showed up to make true on a promise. A promise to show the country, the league, and the world an Orlando that they had never seen. To show them our city was not just a place for roller coasters and Ruby Tuesdays, but for passion, emotion, and individuality. It was a promise to Fill The Bowl, and they freaking delivered.
Some two hours later, after the confetti had cleared and history had been made, I stood on an empty pitch in the middle of an even emptier stadium. There was no more noise. No more sea of purple. It dawned on me that those past few hours couldn’t be replicated. I would be chasing that feeling for the rest of my life.
So this is my appeal to you, City fans. Let me find that feeling again. Give me that noise. Let me see that sight one last time.
Let’s Fill The Bowl Again.