By John Denton
Jan. 2, 2014
Orlando, Fla. – Following a year in which he earned another prestigious public service award and also helped the Orlando Magic broaden its footprint in downtown Orlando, Chief Executive Officer Alex Martins continues his run as one of the most influential leaders in Central Florida.
Martins is once again highly ranked on Orlando Sentinel columnist Scott Maxwell’s list of the “The 25 Most Powerful People in Central Florida,” coming in this year in fifth place. Martins previously ranked fourth, fifth and seventh over the last three years on Maxwell’s list.
In a high-level leadership position with the Magic for the past seven years, Martins has remained a fixture in the rankings of the most dynamic leaders in Central Florida for much of the past decade. He’s a “Hall of Power” member after ranking in Orlando Magazine’s Top 5 for five years in a row of their “Most Powerful People” rankings, a list he’s been a part of each of the past six years, and topping the list in 2012.
Martins was recognized in December by The Central Florida Hotel and Lodging Association (CFHLA) with the 2013 Charles Andrews Memorial Hospitality Award for Community Leadership. The award is CFHLA’s highest honor recognizing an individual’s achievements and contributions to the Central Florida hospitality industry as well as the community at large.
Martins was selected as the recipient for his commitment to regional development and diversity, his role as a driving force behind the 2006 community venues initiative and his involvement in local charities. Martins joined a list of award winners that include Walt Disney of the Walt Disney Co., Tom Ackert of the Orange County Convention Center, Bill David of Universal Orlando and Gary Sain, posthumously, of Visit Orlando.
In addition to his work with the Magic, Martins is also a board member of Visit Orlando where he has supported tourism promotion initiatives and secured the 2012 NBA All-Star Game, which generated more than $95 million in economic impact for the city and helped to shine the spotlight on Orlando.
As he guides the Magic through their 25th anniversary season, Martins has overseen the franchise’s efforts to rebuild the team by making the hires of General Manager Rob Hennigan and Head Coach Jacque Vaughn. Martins has also led an evolution of the thought processes in how the Magic evaluate player acquisitions and make business decisions with a carefully planned, systematic approach.
“It takes a lot of patience and resolve, but that approach is already paying big dividends for us. Because of our strategic approach – whether it’s being one of the first teams in sports to embrace analytics and having a department of five people solely focused on looking at numbers, that helps us make the right decisions,” Martins said. “Or maybe it’s the way we approach our corporate sponsors and how we want to deliver them a return on their investment. That systematic approach, that strategic approach to our business is already paying dividends on the business side.
“The systematic approach is a new system on the basketball side, but I think it’s already paying dividends there as well,” Martins continued. “The assets that we have gotten in any deal done so far have clearly been maximized. And we’ve developed a core group of guys who want to play the right way and have the work ethic and the approach toward team that you find in every championship team. It requires patience and a lot of discipline. We live in a ‘want-it-now’ culture and it’s really, really hard when the pressure of expectations are coming from the four walls of this organization. But we honestly believe that we’re doing it the right way and establishing the building blocks for the future so that we can sustain some great success. And I don’t think it’s that far away for us.”
In November, Martins notched another milestone when he was appointed to serve on the University of Central Florida’s board of trustees. Martins holds an MBA from UCF, where he is a member of the College of Business Administration’s Hall of Fame and serves on the Dean’s Executive Council for the college.
Martins’ legacy will undoubtedly forever include his securing and construction of the Amway Center; a facility hailed by many as the finest in North America, having been honored with TheStadiumBusiness Awards’ 2013 Customer Experience Award and named SportsBusiness Journal's 2012 Sports Facility of the Year. Martins also helped the Magic pass another important step last month to expand their downtown Orlando footprint beyond the Amway Center.
By a 7-0 vote, Orlando City Council approved a plan where SED Development LLC — a sister company of the Magic — will pay the city $12.7 million for land across the street from the Amway Center to build a 650,000-square-foot development. The land, which is currently home to the Orlando Police Headquarters and a city-owned parking garage, will be used to build a corporate headquarters for the Magic and later a full-service hotel and conference center and residential and retail facilities. The Magic and various investors are expected to spend $200 million in construction and development of the area, something that Martins feels will help breathe life into the redevelopment of downtown.
“It is really just the first step,” Martins said. “It’s going to be a great opportunity for downtown and for the redevelopment of Parramore. We believe now, through our estimates, that the development could be a $200 million investment into downtown. It’s going to create hundreds, if not a thousand jobs overall, when you include the people who will be working in the facilities and constructing the facilities. So we’re really confident that this is going to be a great investment for downtown.’’
Martins has spent 26 years in professional sports management, mostly in executive positions with the Magic. Since 2006, he has been the Magic Chief Operating Officer, President and Chief Executive Officer.
Over the past eight years, Martins also led the Magic in a transformation of their business operations and helped to oversee the most successful business year in franchise history in the 2010-11 season. The transformation received the recognition of The SportsBusiness Journal, which named the Magic as a finalist for Professional Sports Team of the Year, the only NBA team to be named a finalist.