“The epicenter of happiness.”
That’s what NBC Commentator (and beloved Florida Gator) Cris Collinsworth called Orlando at the grand opening of the NBC Sports Grill & Brew. For the rabid sports fan, however, the sports bar itself may hold that distinction.
The curving exterior screen is mesmerizing by night — Photo courtesy of Universal Orlando Resort 2015. All rights reserved.
Two stories. Nearly a hundred huge TV screens. More than a hundred craft beers, including a couple of exclusive custom brews. And a massive menu that hits all the traditional sports bar notes while offering an ample selection of creative takes – and a few upscale surprises for a place with “brew” right in the name.
CityWalk pedestrians gawked at the second-floor brew tanks during construction; here's the inside view — Photo courtesy of A.D. Thompson
The figurative ribbon-cutting was a gala affair; sports and broadcast elite walked a red carpet before taking questions. Among them were Collinsworth, Paul Burmeister, co-host of "Pro-Football Talk", Sideline Reporter Michele Tafoya of Sunday Night Football, and athletes-turned-sportscasters including the NHL’s Mike Milbury and Jeremy Roenick, and former NFL players Doug Flutie, Rodney Harrison and Hines Ward.
Leading the charge: the legendary Bob Costas.
Bob Costas and Cris Collinsworth were among the NBC Sports celebrities on-hand for the big event — Photo courtesy of A.D. Thompson
“When the parks and resorts get a bigger round of applause," he joked before his grand opening toast, “you know you’re playing a road game.”
While those in attendance were delighted to mingle with these familiar faces and voices, the venue took center stage. CityWalk guests, particularly those headed into Halloween Horror Nights (the gates to Universal Studios Florida are mere steps away) found themselves pit-stopping to gape at the 120-foot-wide HD stadium screen suspended above the restaurant entrance.
From inside, the views are no less impressive. From the wraparound seating – walls open when weather permits, where guests can watch the parade of park-goers walk past – to the second-floor panorama where nearly all of Universal lies spread out like a kingdom, with icons like Hogwarts, the Hard Rock and the tower of Islands of Adventure as landmarks.
For sports fans, the soaring interior is a homing beacon; wide-screen televisions glint and flash from every angle. Said Ward, a former Pittsburgh Steeler, “This is the ultimate fan cave. There’s not a bad seat in the house.”
Tagging along with sports fans? Panoramic CityWalk views are as captivating as the big screens — Photo courtesy of Universal Orlando Resort 2015. All rights reserved.
From wings to ribs to burgers and beyond, the “sports grub” box is well-ticked, though diners looking for something that moves beyond may find options like the Ahi Tuna Crunch Salad, Bang-Bang Chicken or Quinoa and Edamame Burger fit the bill. Gleaming tanks tower on the second floor, reminding beer enthusiasts to give the 862 Orlando, an exclusive house pour, a taste.
The Ultimate Fan Cave? Foosball, beer, burgers and beyond beckon — Photo courtesy of Universal Orlando Resort 2015. All rights reserved.
Central Florida native and co-host of the Golf Channel’s Morning Drive, Lauren Thompson, is a go-to for information when her friends come to town looking for exciting play.
“This is just one more great place for them to go and feel like they have a front-row seat to any sports game … I’m pretty excited about that, too!”