Denton: NBA All-Star Game Returning to Orlando

Denton: NBA All-Star Game Returning to Orlando

By John Denton
May 4, 2010


Note: The contents of this page have not been reviewed or endorsed by the Orlando Magic. All opinions expressed by John Denton are solely his own and do not reflect the opinions of the Orlando Magic or their Basketball Operations staff, partners or sponsors. His sources are not known to the Magic and he has no special access to information beyond the access and privileges that go along with being an NBA accredited member of the media.

ORLANDO – The NBA All-Star Game is coming back to Orlando in February of 2012, and this time it will be played in the dazzling, new Amway Center.

NBA Commissioner David Stern announced on Tuesday that Orlando had been chosen to host the 61st annual NBA All-Star Game on Feb. 26, 2012. The $380 million Amway Center, which is slated to open in October, will also host the T-Mobile Rookie Challenge and Youth Jam and the NBA All-Star Saturday Night events in addition to the mid-season All-Star Game. The NBA All-Star Jam Session will be held at the Orange County Convention Center.

Stern, who has been highly complimentary of the Magic for assisting in the construction of the Amway Center, said the new facility gives Orlando a variety of opportunities such as hosting the NBA’s grandest event.

``As a premier entertainment destination with a new, state-of-the-art arena and a wide array of hospitality options, Orlando is an obvious and compelling choice to host this celebration of our game,’’ Stern said in a statement. ``We thank the Magic, Orlando and Orange County for once again welcoming NBA All-Star.’’

The 2010-11 season will be the Magic’s first in Amway Center after spending the previous 21 years at Amway Arena just a few blocks away in downtown Orlando. The 2011 NBA All-Star Game will be played at Staples Center in Los Angeles, while Orlando will be home to the 2012 game.

The Arizona Republic reported in February that the 2010 All-Star Game played in Phoenix led to $35 million in direct spending for the area. The hope is that the 2012 game will have the same impact on Orlando’s economy.

``This is a great day for the DeVos family, for the Amway Center and most importantly, for Orlando,’’ Orlando Magic President Bob Vander Weide said. ``We are excited the NBA is bringing one of its signature events to our community and believe it will be among many legendary moments we are able to attract to this first-class facility.’’

Added Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer: ``We are proud that Orlando, and especially its revitalized downtown, will be showcased during NBA All-Star 2012. With the majestic Amway Center hosting great events like NBA All-Star, our vision for a world-class downtown is well on its way to being realized.’’

Magic center Dwight Howard, an all-star each of the past four seasons, was excited about hearing that Orlando had been awarded the 2012 game. Howard said it would be a ``dream come true’’ to play in an All-Star Game in his hometown of Orlando.

``It will be great for Orlando. Having the new arena and hopefully coming off a great season and then having the All-Star Game here, it will be a great chance for Orlando to show the world everything that it has to offer,’’ Howard said. ``Not a lot of guys ever have the chance to play in an All-Star Game in their hometown and God-willing I’ll have that opportunity in a couple of years. I’m already looking forward to it.’’

The environmentally friendly, LEED-certified Amway Center will seat 18,500 for NBA basketball games and up to 20,000 for events such as the NBA All-Star Game.

At 875,000 square feet, the Amway Center will almost triple the size of the current 367,000-square-foot Amway Arena. The new facility will have 56 suites, 1,428 club seats, four concourses, 27 restrooms, three retail stores and one concession point of sale for every 150 spectators. Every level of ticket buyer will have access to the Everyfan’s Bar and Food Court, Club Restaurant, Nutrilite Magic Fan Experience and Orlando Info Garden, Kid’s Zone and multiple indoor-outdoor spaces which celebrate Florida’s climate.

``It’s a testament to our Central Florida community, the Magic organization and our beautiful new Amway Center that Orlando has been selected to host NBA All-Star 2012,’’ said Magic Chief Operating Officer Alex Martins, who has overseen the design, construction and operation of Amway Center the past two years. ``We look forward to working with the city, the county and the NBA to make this an unforgettable week that will drive major economic impact.’’

Orlando last hosted the NBA All-Star Game in 1992 at the then-Orlando Arena. That game was remembered most because of the return of Earvin ``Magic’’ Johnson, who had retired in 1991 after contracting the HIV virus. Johnson scored 25 points, handed out nine assists and hit a high-arching buzzer-beating shot to win the MVP award for the second time in his career.

Now, Orlando could be the stage for more great All-Star memories.

``Orlando is the entertainment capital of the world, making it the ideal city to host the action of NBA All-Star,’’ Orange County Mayor Rich Crotty said. ``On behalf of the county, we look forward to welcoming NBA fans and players from around the world and doing what Orlando and Orange County do best -- helping create memories that will last a lifetime.’’

John Denton writes for Orlandomagic.com. His Magic ``Behind the Scenes’’ segment can be heard each week on ESPN 1080 AM. E-mail John at jd41898@aol.com.