20 Years Ago Today - The Magic Begins

June 19, 1986...a magical day for the city of Orlando.

It was 20 years ago today that Pat Williams, along with Orlando businessman Jim Hewitt, began their efforts to bring a yet-to-be-named NBA franchise to Orlando.

Williams, who wore an "Orlando...On The Way To The NBA" t-shirt to the press conference, accepted the first season ticket deposit of $100 that day and the ball got rolling to bring professional basketball to Central Florida.

Here's a look at the events that led to the creation of the Orlando Magic:

September 1985 - Jim Hewitt, an Orlando businessman, approaches Philadelphia 76ers GM Pat Williams about joining with him in an attempt to bring an NBA franchise to Orlando.

June 19, 1986 - Williams joins Hewitt for the first press conference.


Orlando Sentinel: 20 Years and Counting

July 27, 1986 - Williams announces that the Orlando franchise is the NBA would be named the Magic.

August 31, 1986 - A group of 32 investors is formed to finance the purchase of an NBA franchise in Orlando. The group, headed by Hewitt, includes William DuPont III, real estate developer; Don Dizney, managing general partner of the Orlando Renegades of the USFL; Robert Fraley, attorney and sports agent; and Jim and Steve Caruso, owners of Southern Fruit Citrus.

August 22, 1986 - Norm Sonju, general manager of the Dallas Mavericks and Jerry West, general manager of the Los Angeles Lakers visit Orlando to speak at a gathering of business leaders about the value of an NBA team in Orlando.

September 2, 1986 - Season ticket orders for the Magic exceed the 5,000 mark as 5,100 deposits are on record by the close of business.

October 20, 1986 - Williams and the Orlando group make a presentation to the NBA Board of Governors requesting that a franchise be granted to Orlando. At the meeting, 14,176 deposits for season tickets were presented to the board. The number marked the highest season ticket base among seven cities which were being considered for NBA franchises.

Jan. 5, 1987 - Ground is broken for the Orlando Arena.

January 12, 1987 - Williams and Hewitt meet with NBA expansion committee officials in New York to discuss the possibilities of bringing an NBA team to Orlando. At the meeting, Williams presents NBA Commissioner David Stern with a jar of dirt from the groundbreaking ceremony and a ceremonial arena seat used in the celebration.

February 12, 1987 - William DuPont III becomes general partner of Orlando Magic, Ltd, thus paving the way for strong financial backing of the prosposed NBA Magic franchise.

March 2, 1987 - The NBA expansion committee consisting of Richard Bloch, owner of the Phoenix Sun; Alan Cohen, owner of the Boston Celtics; and Charlie Thomas, owner of the Houston Rockets tours Orlando.

April 22, 1987 - The NBA Board of Governors grants an expansion franchise to Orlando and announces that the team will begin play in the 1989-90 season.


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