Magic Being Back in Playoffs Serves as Great Exposure for Orlando and Its Attractions

Gov. DeSantis Thrilled to See Community Rally Around the Magic
by John Denton

ORLANDO – Born in Jacksonville and raised on the Sunshine State’s West Coast in Dunedin, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis remembers a time when the Orlando Magic gave him his first introduction to pro sports and started his love for Central Florida’s first NBA franchise.

``I grew up in Florida. I was on the West Coast of Florida and in Central Florida and I remember when the Magic started, and we didn’t have any teams until the Heat and Magic came in the late ‘80s,’’ Gov. DeSantis said prior to the Magic’s Game 3 against the Toronto Raptors on Friday night. ``(Prior to the Magic’s arrival), Atlanta was the closest one.

``I remember the old Magic teams with Scott Skiles and those guys. There were some lean years and the start was tough, but then you got Shaq and Penny and it wound up being a huge, huge deal,’’ said Florida’s 46th governor, who was dressed in a Magic blue shirt with a blue suit for Friday’s game at the Amway Center. ``I really appreciate the Magic for being really good citizens of the Orlando area, and what you guys do for the (Central Florida) community.

Gov. DeSantis was joined by Magic CEO Alex Martins and Greater Orlando Sports Commission CEO Jason Siegel on Friday for Game 3 of the best-of-seven, first-round playoff series. With the NBA being televised in 215 countries and in 50 languages, Gov. DeSantis said the Magic being back in the playoffs would serve as great exposure to Central Florida’s many attractions for potential tourists from around the world.

``Look, Orlando is truly a place that you can sell to people all over the globe,’’ said Gov. DeSantis, who noted that he and his staff have been working with the Israeli airline, El Al, to secure direct flights from Tel Aviv to Orlando.

Added Siegel: ``When you think that 72 million of the 118 million visitors that came to Florida in 2017 came to Central Florida – 60 percent came to Central Florida – you know there’s a significant contribution through sports, through visitation, that adds up to and is a part of that billion-dollar mark (created by pro sports in Florida). We can’t do this in this community without our partners in tourism, from hotel and lodging to our theme parks, attractions and certainly our world-class airport. … On the shoulders of the enormously successful pro franchises, are the Orlando Magic, first and foremost, City soccer, Solar Bears, Pride and our UCF Knights here in Orlando as well.’’

Gov. DeSantis said successful business ventures, such as the Magic, have played a major role in Orlando’s massive growth and development into a major metropolitan city over the past three decades. Founded in 1989, the Magic are celebrating their 30th anniversary this season with a fifth division title and a 15thtrip to the NBA playoffs.

``(In Florida), we have a number of franchises now and it’s much different than when I was growing up,’’ Gov. DeSantis said. ``In the ‘80s, we had the Dolphins and the Bucs and no Major League Baseball, no National Basketball Association and I don’t think we had (NHL) until the early 90s. So, we’re in a good spot (with pro franchises).

``One thing, when we were talking earlier, when the Magic came here, Orlando was a metropolitan area, but it’s probably doubled in size since then,’’ Gov. DeSantis added. ``When you look at places that are experiencing growth, Central Florida is one of the tops in the entire country. We’re working, obviously, to diversify the economy and I think there is a lot of good stuff going on here to expand on. I think the market here is going to be a really, really good market. I think a team like Orlando is in a good place to succeed because you’re going to have more eyeballs and more people who are going to want to come. I think the future is good.’’

As for a prediction for Friday’s game, and ultimately the first-round series against the heavily favored Raptors, Gov. DeSantis stuck with the franchise that has been his hometown team for decades.

``To see a team like Orlando, really, overperform expectations, finish the season really strong and take a game from Toronto at Toronto (in Game 1) and now come back here, you can feel the excitement in the community and it’s a big deal,’’ he said. ``Tonight’s going to be really, really exciting and wouldn’t it be great to go up 2-1 and really take that momentum into Sunday’s game.’’

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.

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