Amway Center

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The Amway Center is a sports and entertainment venue in Orlando, Florida, located in the Downtown area. It is part of Downtown Orlando Master Plan 3: a plan that also involves improvements to the Citrus Bowl and a new performing arts center.[1] The arena is home to the Orlando Magic of the NBA, the Orlando Predators of the AFL, and will host the 2012 NBA All-Star Game. As well as many other concerts and events, the popular WWE Monday Night RAW debuted at the Amway Center on November 22, 2010 and WWE Smackdown is set to debut at the Amway Center on May 3, 2011. It is also a candidate to host ArenaBowl XXIV in 2011.[2]

The road to approval

Prior to Downtown Master Plan 3, the Orlando Magic's ownership, led by billionaire Amway founder Richard DeVos and son-in-law Bob Vander Weide, had been pressing the City of Orlando for a new arena for nearly ten years. Amway Arena was built in 1989, prior to the recent era of technologically-advanced entertainment arenas. With the rush to build new venues in the NBA (and sports in general), it quickly became one of the oldest arenas in the league. During various times in the late 1990s, the team even threatened to move elsewhere, though threats of imminent departure died down after the September 11 attacks and remained merely speculation. Still, some analysts suggested that the team might leave for newer arenas in Kansas City, Oklahoma City or even Las Vegas. (Ultimately, Oklahoma City got a team, the Oklahoma City Thunder, when the Seattle SuperSonics moved after the 2007-08 season.)

On September 29, 2006, after years of on-and-off negotiations, Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer, Orange County Mayor Richard Crotty, and the Orlando Magic announced an agreement on a new arena in downtown Orlando, located at the northwest corner of Church Street and Hughey Avenue. The arena itself cost around $380 million, with an additional $100 million for land and infrastructure, for a total cost of $480 million. It is part of a $1.05-billion plan to redo the Orlando Centroplex with a new arena, a new $375-million performing arts center, and a $175-million expansion of the Citrus Bowl (Later, declining economic conditions led the improvements to the Citrus Bowl to be delayed until at least 2020). When it was announced in the media on September 29, it was referred to as the "Triple Crown for Downtown".

As part of Amway's naming rights to the old Amway Arena, the company received right of first refusal for naming rights to the new venue,[3] and exercised those rights, announcing a 10-year, $40-million naming deal to name the venue the Amway Center on August 3, 2009.[4]

Financing

File:AmwayCenterCourt.JPG
Amway Center in its basketball-venue arrangement after hosting its first NBA regular season game

The details of the agreement were finalized on December 22, 2006. In the agreement, the City of Orlando will take ownership of the new arena, while the Magic will control the planning and construction of the facility so long as contracting procedures are done in the same public manner as governments advertise contracts. In addition, the City will be paid a part of naming rights and corporate suite sales, a share estimated to be worth $1.75 million the first year of the arena's opening. The Magic will receive all proceeds from ticket sales for Magic games, while the City will receive all proceeds from ticket sales to all other events.[5] The Orlando Magic will contribute at least $50 million in cash up-front, pick up any cost overruns, and pay rent of $1 million per year for 30 years. The City of Orlando will pay for the land and infrastructure. The remaining money will come from bonds which will be paid off by part of the Orange County, Florida, Tourist Development Tax, collected as a surcharge on hotel stays, which was raised to 6% in 2006. The Magic will guarantee $100 million of these bonds.

The Orlando City Council approved several operating agreements connected with the arena plans on May 22, 2007.[6] The City Council approved the plan officially, 6-1, on July 23.[7] The Venue plan received final approval by the Orange County Board of County Commissioners, 5-2, in late evening of July 26 after a long day of public hearings.[8] Amendments were made by the County Commission which were approved on August 6 by the City Council, 6-1, sealing the deal once and for all. On December 1, 2007, the City and the Magic came to an agreement on nearly $8.5 million in compensation to three owners of the land where the arena is planned to be built. An eminent domain hearing confirmed the agreement and finalized the sale.[9]

Debt Problems

On April 3, 2010 it was reported that Fitch Rating Agency had downgraded the bonds used to finance the new arena to "junk" status and further warned the arena's debt holders that in as soon as 30 months the new Amway Center could be faced with a default unless finances are corrected. The city and county were quick to assure local media that in no way would Fitch's downgrade delay construction and that all necessary funds were on hand to complete the center. However because of the Fitch downgrade the interest rate on the debt payments would increase the "payoff" cost of the Amway Center over time and the Orlando Sentinel pointed out that it would be harder to seek lending for the other phases of the project such as the "$425 million Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts and the $175 million renovation of the Florida Citrus Bowl stadium." [10]

The downgrade to "junk" of the Amway Center's debt—although reversible—signals that unless local government either expands tax revenue or drastically reduces both Amway Center and non-center expenses, creditors could in just a short few years seek bankruptcy relief in the form of repossession or auctioning off the new center. Such a move would probably not threaten the Magic's status as tenant in the venue.

Design

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Amway Center main entrance at the opening game of 2010-11 regular season Orlando Magic

Populous (formerly HOK Sport) was named the primary contractor on August 3, 2007, with Smith Seckman Reid and Walter P Moore Engineers and Consultants as planning partners.[11] As part of the contract, Populous agreed to contract at least 18% of the construction work to firms owned by minorities and 6% of the work to firms owned by women.[12] On August 26, 2009, the Magic announced that 35% of the contracts to that point, with 75% of all contracts awarded, have gone to companies owned by minorities or women.[13]

California-based art curator Sports and the Arts assembled the Amway Center Art Collection. The collection includes more than 340 works of art, including about 200 museum-quality photographs. 14 of the 21 artists housed in the collection represent Central Florida.

From 2008 to 2010, Ripbang Studios Inc based in Venice Beach California designed the following for the Amway Center Arena: Signage for the building's exterior, interior, wayfinding, concessions, retail, and sponsor zones • Box Office Plaza's “porch” elements including a 50-foot tall rain sculpture, fans and oversized chairs • the ORLANDO sign at the corner of Church and Division Streets • Orlando Magic Team Store sponsored by Adidas • Gentleman Jack Terrace outdoor bar • Nutrilite Magic Fan Experience • Orlando on Demand Info Garden • Airtran Airways Flight Deck sponsor zone • Kia Motors Terrace sponsor deck • Stuff’s Magic Castle kids play area • Magic Stuff kids retail shop • OZONE Bowl Sign and Fan Deck • and the O3 Beverage Bar.[14]

In May, 2010, Sports & The Arts was awarded the role of Art Consultant for the curation and installation of artwork, photography and large format graphics. The Amway Center Art Collection includes over 140 pieces of fine art paintings and mixed media originals, over 200 photographs, and graphic wall treatments highlighting both the Orlando Magic and the spirit of Orlando and Central Florida.

Amway Center is one of the most technologically advanced venues in the world. Inside the building, a unique centerhung installation, manufactured by Daktronics of Brookings, South Dakota, is the tallest in any NBA venue.[15] It maximizes creative programming options by using high resolution, 6mm-pixel technology on each of the 18 displays, including two digital ring displays and four tapered corners. Additional displays include approximately Template:Convert of digital ribbon boards, the largest of which is a 360-degree, Template:Convert display surrounding the entire seating bowl. These displays have the ability to display exciting motion graphics and real time content, such as in-game statistics, out-of-town scores, and closed captioning information.[15] Outside the building, a large display utilizes more than 5,000 Daktronics ProPixel® LED sticks, each a meter long, which make up a Template:Convert by Template:Convert video display. This display will reach millions of motorists traveling by the Amway Center on Interstate 4.[15]

Comparison to Amway Arena

Amway Center has an assortment of mid-level luxury seats and club seating, located below the upper bowl.[16] This contrasts Amway Arena's design as it's luxury boxes are above all seats and suspended from the ceiling. The arena's design was unveiled at Amway Arena on December 10, 2007, with an official press release the next day.[17] The floor of Amway Center is designed with arena football in mind, as it features more retractable sections that will permit squared end zone corners, a feature previously not possible for Orlando Predators games.

Arena Comparison[18]
Amway Center Amway Arena
Capacity
Hockey/arena football
NBA
NCAA basketball
End stage concert
Center stage concert

17,200
18,846
20,000
16,000
19,000

15,948
17,282
17,282
12,592
18,039
Square Footage 875,000[19] 367,000
Suites[20] 38 Founders Suites
30 Presidents Suites
70 Loge Boxes
2 Legends Suites
14 MVP Tables
4 Silver Suites
4 IOA Hardwood Suites
2 All-Star Decks
1 AirTran Flight Deck
3 Club Hospitality Rooms
26 Skyboxes (suspended from ceiling)
Club Seats 1,428 0
Concourses 4 concourses, average 30' width 1 concourse, average 20' width
Public Restrooms 18 men’s, 19 women’s 4 men’s, 4 women’s
Retail Stores 3 0 (4 fixed stands)
Concession Points of Sale 1:150 spectators 1:215 spectators

Construction of Amway Center

Grand Opening

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Magic owner Rich DeVos speaking to fans before the first Magic home game in the new arena
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Amway Center's first NBA regular season game tip-off with the Magic hosting the Wizards

The official ribbon cutting ceremony and dedication took place on October 1, 2010 at 10:01 AM. The general public was invited to enter the building where Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer gave his annual State of Downtown address.[21] The first ticketed event was a Vicente Fernández concert on October 8. The Orlando Magic hosted their first preseason game at Amway Center on October 10 against the New Orleans Hornets when they won by a historic margin of 54 points, while the 2010-11 regular season home opener took place on October 28 against the Washington Wizards. Template:Clear

References

External links

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