Tag Archives: Orlando Magic

Ups and Downs for Amway Center Opening

19 Oct

Orlando’s Amway Center’s inaugural week had its share of challenges, but fortunately these were outweighed by successes.

The Eagles were scheduled as the venue’s first concert on Oct. 8, but singer Don Henley suffered an illness, postponing the show until Oct. 26.

In addition, from a technological standpoint, because the building is ahead of its time, there were incompatibility issues with some shows’ production systems.

On a positive note, the Orlando Magic beat the New Orleans Hornets in the center’s first preseason National Basketball Association game last Sunday, winning 135-81.

Also, merchandising sales were double a typical preseason game and comparable to a playoff game.

“I don’t know if having the show postponed is a first for an arena grand opening, but I doubt many arena managers are having as much fun as I am,” said Allen Johnson, Amway Center’s executive director. “Overall, we had fewer snags than anticipated.”

The grand opening week at the start of this month included a series of free community events that showcased the venue, including a ceremonial ribbon cutting and Orlando Mayor Billy Dyer’s Annual State of Downtown Address that had 5,000 attendees, as well as an open house with complimentary food and entertainment, which attracted 50,000 people.

Filling in for the Eagles, ranchera musician Vicente Fernandez performed to a half house of 6,000 on Oct. 8.

“He is the most revered name in Hispanic music, and we have a very diverse community, so it was a fitting opening [to our concert season],” Johnson said.

A gala benefit for the Orlando Magic Youth Foundation, featuring the Boston Pops with singer James Taylor, was held on Oct. 8 and 9.

In addition to Magic games, there will be approximately 170 events during Amway Center’s inaugural year.

Other scheduled performances include comedienne Chelsea Handler, Madea’s Big Happy Family with actor Tyler Perry and World Wrestling Entertainment’s RAW.

Experience the best view our city has to offer- 100 feet up at the top of the tower- and enjoy the open-air atmosphere of the Sky Bar. It presents the perfect destination to escape the postgame traffic and prolong the celebration.

The Amway Center also will play host to the 2012 NBA All-Star Game.

The $380 million, 876,673-sq.-ft. venue is the most technologically advanced of its kind, the first sustainable building in the NBA and the only city-owned facility to house a major sports team.

The center seats 18,500 for Magic games, compared with 17,282 at the former facility. Up to 20,000 people can be accommodated for NBA All-Star games and NCAA basketball tournaments. There are 60 private suites, two bunker suites, two super suites, four party suites and 732 club seats.

Amway Center’s concessionaire, Orlando Food Service Partners, a joint venture with Levy Restaurants, is now able to offer twice as much variety than in the previous facility on two separate levels, as opposed to one. There are 22 concession stands or one concession for every 125 spectators. Each area has four digital menu boards that provide details on food and pricing.

“Unlike most facilities, we offer as many amenities to our cheap-seat ticket holders as we do for those who have premium seats,” Johnson said.

Many representatives from other area and out-of-state venues checked out the new Amway Center during its opening week.

“It is a spectacular building,” said Ron Spencer, director of the Tallahassee-Leon County Civic Center. “I’ve been in most newer facilities for a number of years, and it’s one of the best. I’m most impressed with the venue’s public places. Fans will have a wonderful experience.”

“The building is impressive, and the technology is beyond what we’ve seen in any facility right now,” said Michael LaPan, executive director of Florida’s Lakeland Center. “Europe has been ahead of us in terms of state-of-the-art venues, but this is definitely one of the world’s top five facilities.”

The consensus is that the grand opening successfully showcased Amway Center’s many attributes.

“This is a public/private partnership that came together and is working,” Johnson said. “The community has waited a long time for this venue, and their expectations have been met.” – Lisa White

Interviewed for this article:  Allen Johnson, (407) 440-7070; Michael LaPan, (863) 834-8133; Ron Spencer, (850) 487-1691


Naming Rights Report: Amway Center, Orlando

9 Oct

Amway Center, Orlando

Date Announced: Sept. 1

Buyers: Anheuser-Busch, GEICO, Jack Daniel’s Distillery

Terms: Not released

Ownership/Tenant: City of Orlando/Orlando Magic, Orlando Predators

Comments: The new Amway Center added three more multi-year corporate sponsorships — Anheuser-Busch, GEICO, and the Jack Daniel’s premium brand, Gentleman Jack Rare Tennessee Whiskey — a month prior to opening.

Jack Daniel’s will sponsor an outdoor patio bar, open to all ticket holders during Orlando Magic National Basketball Association games.“This will be the first Gentleman Jack bar, which speaks well of the demographic of the NBA,” said Chip Bowers, vice president of corporate partnerships for the Orlando Magic. “This space is a bit more refined, like a ‘W’ Hotel of outdoor bars.”

The bar overlooks Church Street, where the brand’s signage will be visible.
The brand will also receive digital signage in the Amway Center, and will be designated as the Official North American whiskey of the Orlando Magic.

Insurance company GEICO joins PepsiCo, AirTran and Harris Corp., as a “Champions of the Community” partner for the venue. GEICO’s name will be on the new seven-level premium parking garage and skywalk, named the GEICO Gateway, to the Amway Center. They will also be the title sponsor of the halftime countdown clock. The deal includes signage on two outdoor signs, the digital billboard, and the arena’s marquees.

“We created a model with the signage in the building – it is all LED or electronic, there are no backlit signs,” Bowers said. The building’s 800 televisions can also be used as signage and, for three minutes a game, each Champion will receive exclusive use of every sign in the building.”

The messages can be segmented by target market, so families on the Promenade deck could be targeted with car insurance, while the suites could see commercials for recreational vehicles and boats.

GEICO has been a sponsor of the Magic for 10 years.

Anheuser-Busch, which has been a sponsor of the Orlando Magic for 21 years, will sponsor the Budweiser Baseline Bar, a terrace-level bar at one end of the court. They will receive signage throughout the arena, ad position on the website, and in-arena promotions. They will also collaborate with the NBA on “Good Sport,” a program to encourage fans to drink responsibly and use a designated driver when attending games.

Contact: Chip Bowers, (407) 916-2400

— Liz Boardman

Winners and Losers of LeBron James’ Move to Florida

16 Jul

LeBron James

LeBron James’ announcement that he was leaving Cleveland for the sunny beaches of South Florida on Thursday sent shockwaves through the basketball world. By teaming up with Dwayne Wade and newly signed Chris Bosh on the Miami Heat, James now joins the only NBA team with three of the league’s top 10 scorers, and anything short of a championship next season will be a major disappointment.

The move means a decent-sized payday for James ($96.1 million over 5 years), but more importantly, the move will have wide ranging implications for a number of teams and companies. Below, Venues Today looks at the winners and losers of “The Decision.”

WINNER – MIAMI HEAT: Within 72 hours after the announcement, the team had sold out all of its available season tickets inventory, with cheap seats moving for $484 annually, all the way up to courtside seats for $125,000, said Michael McCullough, chief marketing officer for the Heat. Premier inventory, including club seats and the team’s 20 suites, are also sold out. The team has sold out its initial run of James’ replica jerseys ($39) at its indoor arena store and mall retail location. Higher-end jerseys will hit the market in the coming weeks.

“We’ve been through something similar in 2004 when we acquired Shaquille O’Neal. We have a great deal of experience from that go around and we’re implementing a lot of that learning,” said McCullough. “One thing we decided was not to implement season tickets on our 400 level, which is a balcony level with 3,400 seats.”

The team is leaving that inventory for group tickets, individual tickets and partial plan tickets once the schedule is released.

LOSER – CAVALIERS: To say Dan Gilbert, owner of the Cavaliers, was unhappy about James’ leaving his team would be a huge understatement.

“If you thought we were motivated before tonight to bring the (NBA Championship) to Cleveland, I can tell you that this shameful display of selfishness and betrayal by one of our very own has shifted our ‘motivation’ to previously unknown and previously never experienced levels,” he wrote in an open letter to James on the team’s website. NBA commissioner David Stern fined Gilbert $100,000 for the emotional missive.

Because of the league’s salary cap rules, the team is restricted on how much it can spend to acquire new players. Since acquiring James in 2002, the team has nearly tripled its value to almost $500 million, according to Forbes.  NBA.com reports that James’ jersey is the number two selling jersey in the league. From 2002 to 2009, attendance averaged 809,551 at the Cavs’ Quicken Loans Arena — up approximately 40 percent from the seven prior years before the signing. Before James, the Cavs rarely had a nationally televised game. Last season, 25 games were broadcast on national cable and broadcast networks.

LOSER – VERITIX: The Cavaliers were often considered the flagship franchise for ticketing provider Veritix, owned by Gilbert and managed by President Jeff Kline.

Kline said he could not comment on James for this article, but he did indicate in past interviews that the star had generated big bucks for the team’s secondary platform. During the Cav’s Jan. 21 home game against the Los Angeles Lakers, Veritix’s Flash Seats program had generated $2 million in secondary ticket sales for the team, resulting in $500,000 worth of service fees.

Making matters worse, 2010 was the first post-season the Cavaliers were allowed to use Flash Seats to move playoff tickets because of a previous agreement with Ticketmaster. Besides the Cavs, Veritix has three other NBA clients but only one other team made it to the playoffs this season — the Utah Jazz. On Tuesday, the Jazz lost its star player Carlos Boozer to the Chicago Bulls.

WINNER — SECONDARY TICKET SITES: Broker listing sites like StubHub and TicketNetwork might see more Miami tickets listed on their site than they did when James played for Cleveland. Veritix’s Flash Seats program provided a paperless ticketing platform that made it simple for fans to buy and resell their tickets on an official marketplace, and paperless adoption rates hit nearly 70 percent during the Cav’s brief playoff run. Miami’s American Airlines Arena is a Ticketmaster building that uses TicketExchange, a secondary listing site that doesn’t offer paperless, and often has much less secondary inventory than StubHub.

WINNER – ORLANDO MAGIC: “There’s a good buzz about a potential rivalry between the Magic and the Heat, which never had that much intensity in the past,” explained Allen Johnson, director of Orlando (Fla.) Venues. “Anything that helps basketball in Florida is great, because we’re considered a football state first,” he said.

Orlando, which has made the Eastern Conference twice in the last two years, is in the same division as the Heat, adding to the intensity of the rivalry.  The two teams first face each other on Oct. 22 for a pre-season game at the St. Pete Times Forum in Tampa Bay, Fla. – Dave Brooks

Interviewed for this article: Michael McCullough, (786) 777-4103; Allen Johnson, (407) 810-3055