By John DentonOct. 10, 2015
ORLANDO – Five years ago today, the Amway Center opened in Orlando with a Magic preseason game to rave reviews from fans in Central Florida and nearly every player and coach around the NBA.
Not long after the Amway Centers’ doors opened to Magic fans on Oct. 10, 2010 – 10-10-10 for a building that many have described as a perfect 10 – former NBA Commissioner David Stern lauded the facility as the best in the league. Even now, some five years later, it could be that the building many consider to be the best in the NBA has gotten even better with the new advancements introduced by the Magic and the City of Orlando.
The Magic will be celebrating their fifth season in the Amway Center with ground-breaking technology that is the first of its kind in the NBA. This season, fans will be able to use their smart phones like remote controls, ordering food, merchandise and ticket upgrades from the comfort of their seats. All of it, Magic CEO Alex Martins said, should only further enhance the fan experience and ensure that the Amway Center remains as one of the best facilities in the NBA, if not all the world.
``The thing that we challenge ourselves with every single offseason is, `How do we keep it fresh? How do we continue to add another layer to the experience that fans are having?’^’’ Martins said. ``That’s been our approach every offseason, but this (technology enhancement) is the most significant change with the Venue Next platform and really going mobile since the building opened. And it’s been the most significant investment, too.
``But it’s important that our fans continue to get at least the level of service that they get from any other entertainment entity and we want to be innovators and pioneers as it relates to the fan experience – whether it’s the customer service program that we put in with our partners at Disney or things like technology with this new mobile platform.’’
As promised during the design and construction phases, the Amway Center has become a mecca for sports, entertainment and cultural events in Central Florida. The public/private partnership was the vision of Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer and Martins and the dazzling venue became a reality thanks to the approval of the Orlando City Council and the Orange County Commission.
In five years, the arena has welcomed 6,657,572 guests to a total of 1,079 events. During that span, the state-of-the-art venue has hosted 220 Orlando Magic games, 114 Orlando Solar Bears games, 37 Orlando Predator games and 21 non-team sporting events. Also, the Amway Center has been home to 55 sold-out shows by many of the biggest names in music including Paul McCartney, Taylor Swift, Justin Timberlake and Eagles.
Along the way The Amway Center has garnered more than 20 awards, including the SportsBusiness Journal’s ``Sports Facility of the Year’’ and the StadiumBusiness Awards’ ``Customer Experience Award.’’
``Year after year, our world-class Amway Center continues to draw high-profile events and top-tier artists for all ages, providing our residents and millions of visitors with the best in sports and entertainment offerings,’’ Mayor Dyer said. ``The Amway Center, along with our other Downtown Venues, continues to not only strengthen Orlando’s economic vitality, but boosts our entire Central Florida region and serves as a source of pride for our City, exceeding all expectations as to what a community venue can and should be.’’
Magic players Tobias Harris and C.J. Watson – both of whom have played elsewhere in the NBA before coming to Orlando – said that the Amway Center is easily one of the best venues in the NBA. Harris said it is a true luxury for the Magic to have their practice facility, home locker room and home court all in the same building.
``This building is pretty amazing. With the facility everything is top of the line and something that I don’t take for granted,’’ Harris said. ``It’s up there, top three I believe. It’s a huge advantage having it all here and I’m thankful for it, seriously. As a team, we’re at a luxury to have everything (at one building), for sure.’’
Added Watson, who is in his first season with the Magic after playing for the Warriors, Bulls, Nets and Pacers: ``This is a pretty cool arena. It’s family-friendly and it’s pretty big – more than you think it is. And the crowd is really into it here, having played against them here, and even with the family not being so good the last couple of years.’’