Denton: Martins Moves Up in Ranking

By John Denton
January 2, 2012

ORLANDO – It’s no coincidence that Alex Martins’ climb up the Most Powerful People in Central Florida list has coincided with his rise up the chain of command with the Orlando Magic.

Recently promoted from team president to the Magic’s Chief Executive Officer, Martins jumped from seventh to fifth in the Orlando Sentinel’s 25 Most Powerful People in Central Florida list. Martins, 47, is the highest ranking private citizen on the list. He trails only Orlando mayor Buddy Dyer, Orange County mayor Teresa Jacobs, UCF president John C. Hitt and Florida House Speaker Dean Cannon on the recently released list.

Martins, who has worked for the Magic for nearly 20 years in several capacities, was the choice by the DeVos family to replace Bob Vander Weide, who retired from his post as CEO on Dec. 7. Martins started with the franchise from its inception in 1989, working first as the director of public directions and steadily climbing the organizational chain.

Martins’ dedication and work with the Magic has been a labor of love. He said his resolve is greater than ever to make the Magic champions on the basketball court and in the Central Florida community.

``I grew up in this organization and if anybody does, I bleed Magic blue,’’ Martins said recently. ``I’ve learned the business from the ground up and I’ve virtually worked in every corner of this business – be it public relations, marketing or sales or in the development. It’s been a great period of 20 years in working with this family and this organization. I look forward to doing it several more years as well.’’

In the past year alone, Martins not only oversaw the finishing touches on the construction and grand opening of the dazzling Amway Center, but he also served in a leadership role for a franchise that set new highs for season tickets sold and won at least 50 games for a fourth consecutive season.

Martins work helped him become the Rotary Club of Orlando’s Outstanding Business Professional of the Year in 2010. Last year he also climbed to third overall in Orlando Magazine’s eighth annual list of The Most Powerful People in Orlando. In the July edition of the magazine poll, Martins ranked one spot ahead of Dyer.

The Magic were the lead developers of the state-of-the-art Amway Center, and much of that responsibility fell onto the shoulders of Martins, who managed the design and construction of the facility. Not only did the project come in on time and on budget, but it was widely hailed by NBA Commissioner David Stern and several other NBA executives as the finest arena in the league.

For his work in completing the arena and doubling the season-ticket base to 14,000 fans over the past five years, Martins was promoted to the Magic’s President in July of 2010. He served as the team’s Chief Operating Officer the previous four years. And now with the retirement of Vander Weide, Martins’ mentor in many ways, Martins is responsible with many of the main decisions involving the Magic on and off the court.

``I’ve had the great fortune of working with Bob for the better part of 20 years and so from my standpoint it is a seamless transition,’’ Martins said. ``It will allow the organization to keep moving forward in the manner in which we have building a championship contender and being a model for sports franchise businesses in the matter that we have for more than 20 years.’’

The Magic’s overall stadium experience for fans – which combines bang for the buck, fan relations and affordability – was recently honored by ESPN The Magazine. ESPN’s ninth annual Ultimate Standings ranked the Magic’s stadium experience the best in the NBA and fifth overall among all teams from the NFL, MLB, NHL and NBA.

Also, last year, the Magic were named a finalist in the Street & Smith’s Sports Business Journal and Sports Business Daily’s annual Sports Business Awards in the categories of ``Sports Team of the Year’’ and ``Sports Facility of the Year.’’ It was the first time in the 22-year history of the franchise that the Magic have been named finalists for either of the two awards. The Sports Business Awards annually recognize excellence and outstanding achievement in the business of sports.

Martins’ work with the Amway Center earned him a spot as chairman of a group in charge of managing the construction budget of the downtown performing arts center project. His Rotary award came as a result of his leadership abilities and his commitment to community outreach and philanthropic services throughout the Central Florida community. The Magic give more than $2 million annually to the local community by way of sponsorships of events, donated tickets, autographed merchandise, scholarships and grants.

The Magic’s community relations programs impact an estimated 75,000 kids each year, while a Magic staff-wide initiative provides more than 6,000 volunteer hours annually. This past year the Magic, along with its ``Champion of the Community’’ partners, also completed five community gyms at a cost of $25 million.

``Martins’ vision, leadership, creativity and integrity took the Orlando Magic to new heights in 2010,’’ said Eric Schrek, Rotary committee chairman for the award selection process. ``Not only has he taken that organization to the next level, but he’s continued to show his commitment to the Central Florida community through participation in many local organizations and worthy causes.’’

John Denton writes for John has covered the Magic since 1997 and recently authored ``All You Can Be’’ with Magic center Dwight Howard. E-mail John at

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