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Sports Illustrator
07-27-2008, 09:34 AM
Fireworks filled the air, feel-good music blared from the loud speakers and smiles were plentiful Friday in downtown Orlando as the first clods of dirt were turned on what will eventually become a teeming $480 million multipurpose arena.

The scene, Orlando Magic president Bob Vander Weide gushed, was like something straight out of a dream. Because the construction of the new Events Center will create hundreds of jobs, revitalize the Parramore district, allow Orlando to compete for major sporting events, concerts and conventions and secure the future of the Magic, the importance of this day could not be understated, Orlando mayor Buddy Dyer stressed.

"This day is right up there in history, and the impact of all three community venues will be felt for decades," Dyer said. "There have been a number of monumental days leading up to this point and this just continues the momentum we've built. This is a huge day for
Central Florida."

Government leaders from Orlando and Orange County joined Magic executives, coaches and players for Friday's ceremonial groundbreaking for the new downtown arena. After the dignitaries made their first digs with chrome shovels, a ring of fireworks were launched around the 8.75-acre lot at the corners of Church and Division Streets in downtown Orlando.

Construction on the facility, which officially begins next week, will take approximately 26 months and is expected to be ready for the opening of the 2010-11 NBA season for the Magic.

"We dreamt of this day, it's here and it's a beautiful day for this region," Vander Weide said. "Twenty-six months from now we're going to have a great facility and the Magic will go about pursuing winning a championship for this area."

The new facility will be called the Orlando Events Center until corporate naming rights can be sold in the coming months. The Magic will be the primary tenants, but the city is hoping the building will also help lure major concerts, SEC and ACC tournaments as well as political conventions to Central Florida. The Magic put in a bid to host the 2012 NBA All-Star Game at this week's Board of Governors meeting in New York City. That decision should come in the fall.

The new facility (800,000 square feet) will nearly triple the size of the Magic's home at Amway Arena (367,000 square feet). The events center will be 800,000 square feet and will seat 19,000 for concerts, 18,500 for NBA games, 20,000 for NCAA games and 17,200 for hockey and Arena Football League games.

The arena will also feature 56 suites, 1,428 club seats and 328 lodge seats. Other features include an outdoor patio overlooking Church Street, five banquet rooms and a 120-foot tower and observation deck.

"This is going to be a magnificent facility for Central Florida and we wanted to signify the first milestone by showing this building is going to be like something this community has never seen before," said Magic Chief Operating Officer Alex Martins. "This facility will be able to host any major concert, any event from family shows to sporting events. This will be the best state-of-the-art facility in North America. And every entertainer, promoter and organizer is going to want to be here."

Today is the one-year anniversary of the Orlando City Council and Orange County Commission passing approvals for the funding for the news events center. Construction of a performing arts center and the renovation of the aging Citrus Bowl are also a part of the $1.2 billion initiative.

The Magic are contributing $158 million toward the projects -- $50 million to the Events Center, $10 million to the Arts Center and $12.5 million toward the construction of five recreation centers in the Orlando area.

A large portion of the funding is derived from Orange County's Tourist Tax, which is levied on hotel stays. That factor helped Orlando continue its hopes of downtown revitalization despite a national swoon in the economy.

"For the next 26 months, this will provide workforce for this community and it will have an economic thrust here," Vander Weide said. "And the significant thing is that this isn't happening all over the country. What a great opportunity for Orlando to grow in what is a down economy."

Vander Weide said the construction of the new facility helped secure the Magic's future in Orlando. Otherwise, he said candidly, the team would have had to look to sell or move elsewhere.

"You couldn't be more clear that our next opportunity would have been to sell," Vander Weide said. "It was always floated around that the next (owner) would figure it out and it wouldn't be a given that it would stay here. But never once as a family did we sit around a table and say that we'd like to be elsewhere. It was always about how we love it here and we were determined to get it done."

Magic general manager Otis Smith, head coach Stan Van Gundy and players Jameer Nelson and Rashard Lewis attended Friday's event. Lewis said he was delighted Orlando avoided an ugly arena battle like the one that cost Seattle its NBA franchise. Nelson added that the rumors of a relocation can be put to rest now and the focus can be solely on basketball.

"It gives us great long-term security and that's nice," he said. "We had heard the rumors about how we were going to move to Tampa or move to this place or that place, but now we know that we're going to be for the rest of our careers.

"We have a good team, a great organization and the community has been backing us the last few years. And now this new arena is sort of a tribute to our fans. We're really heading in the right direction."

From Florida Today (http://www.floridatoday.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20080726/SPORTS/807260322/1002/SPORTS)

Reezy
07-27-2008, 01:31 PM
This obviously keeps the Magic here for a good long while. :)

Here's hoping to more $10 tickets!

*Superman*
07-27-2008, 04:41 PM
The Area will look good.

Reezy
07-27-2008, 04:53 PM
The Area will look good.

Unfortunately the parking garage where I normally park at will now be filled once we move to the new arena. :(

*Superman*
07-27-2008, 04:59 PM
^ Glad i don't have that problem.JK. Who is gonna go to the Allstar game when it comes here.

atomik102
07-27-2008, 05:01 PM
where abouts is the new arena located compared to the old 1 cause i have no idea about downtown orlando area lol

*Superman*
07-27-2008, 05:06 PM
Thats a good question that i don't have an answer too.lol

Let me see if i can find out...Isn't it going to be near the old one, cause it said something about Church Street and thats near Amway Arena

Reezy
07-27-2008, 06:21 PM
Yeah, it's going to be closer to the Florida A&M law school, near Church Street.

atomik102
07-29-2008, 03:50 PM
lol all we have to look for is a new tall building being built lol

Reezy
07-29-2008, 04:20 PM
lol all we have to look for is a new tall building being built lol

Well, it did just start. It's going to take a little bit of time.

atomik102
07-29-2008, 10:10 PM
and what about parking lol its horriable already i would hate to see it with 5,000 more people there

Reezy
07-30-2008, 12:03 PM
Plowing Amway Arena would definitely help since it wouldn't be that far away from the Orlando Events Center.