Orlando Magic the next big investment for Orlando

Apr 9, 2014; Orlando, FL, USA; Orlando Magic mascot, Stuff, holds a big flag against the Brooklyn Nets during the second half at Amway Center. Orlando Magic defeated the Brooklyn Nets 115-111. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 9, 2014; Orlando, FL, USA; Orlando Magic mascot, Stuff, holds a big flag against the Brooklyn Nets during the second half at Amway Center. Orlando Magic defeated the Brooklyn Nets 115-111. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports /

The Orlando sports scene has exploded in the last week with major events coming to the city. The Orlando Magic are an anchor that needs its shine.

Orlando became something of a hub for the sports world and news this week. By January and the early part of 2017, all focus will be on Camping World Stadium  for some major sports events.

Last Wednesday, the NFL announced the Pro Bowl would be coming to Orlando for the next several years. In late January, the NFL will be bringing its roadshow to Orlando with its full force and power. Not long before that, there will be the three annual college football bowl games at the stadium and the new season opening kickoff game. In April, WrestleMania brings its hoopla to the stadium.

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In March, the NCAA Tournament arrives in Amway Center for first and second round games. Copa America Centenario is taking place at Camping World Stadium this week.

Orlando City’s new stadium will open next year and add even more to the city’s sports profile.

Orlando has become a sports destination. Someplace leagues and sporting events want to hold their major events.

It does leave the Orlando Magic, and to some extent, the Amway Center a little bit out of the news. As the city expands its sports footprint and profile, the Magic are kind of pushed to the wayside. The Amway Center too — true the NCAA Tournament happens at Amway Center and so too will the WWE Raw the day after WrestleMania and some other WrestleMania events (suffice it to say, expect a road trip for the Magic in early April).

The focus in town has been elsewhere as Orlando grows its sports profile.

The next stage though will come at the corner of Church and Hughey, where the Magic play. Orlando’s downtown sports transformation will circle back around the change that kickstarted it all.

The events package that built the Amway Center, Dr. Phillips Performing Arts Center and the renovated Orlando Citrus Bowl was spearheaded by the Magic trying to get a new arena essentially to remain in Orlando. The team nearly moved because of its frustrations in getting a new stadium.

The Magic have moved comfortably into Amway Center now. It is hard to believe the team has played six years in the building — with two Playoff appearances. But certainly the team’s struggles the last four years have quieted the building a little bit. The attention has gone away.

The Orlando Magic are still the anchor team in the region, no matter how popular Orlando City gets. But that status certainly can be challenged. The team can be ignored if the losing continues.

The hunger to win drives fan attention. And this fan base seems ready to win. Everything is in place except for the winning for the Magic to have the kind of notoriety and excitement these new teams and events are getting.

Now that Camping World Stadium seems to be set and Orlando City’s stadium is on its way, Amway Center needs its turn in the sun for some major events. The Magic will have to do their part for that too.

Not just on the court either.

The team is continuing to move forward with plans on its entertainment district across the street from Amway Center. That will create more opportunities to host events at the Amway Center and more reason to bring people downtown or linger around after games.

It could be a big part of the Magic’s potential bid for the All-Star Game in the very near future.

“The application process is dependent on when the bids are put out on the league,” Magic CEO Alex Martins said about the potential All-Star bid a few weeks ago when the Magic hired Frank Vogel. “I think the moon and the stars are going to align on a similar path here not because we planned it that way but because the next two available are in ’19 and ’20. By that time, our complex will be complete and construction on I-4 should be almost over. The timing on that should be perfect.”

Construction on that facility should begin some time this summer. Part of the delays may be dependent on how quickly the Orlando Police Department headquarters get built.

Undoubtedly though, the implications of this entertainment district will only add to the atmosphere downtown and make Amway Center all the more attractive.

The next big event after this rush of events coming through town in the next few years will be the NBA All-Star Game. An improved Magic team will also bring people through the Amway Center’s doors more and more.

Bringing in big events to Orlando is all about opportunity though. The Pro Bowl would not come to Orlando if the NFL did not open up the bidding suddenly. Orlando and Orange County acted quickly to put a bid in and win the event for the next several years.

These events are about the total package. What can the city provide? What amenities does it have? What is the hotel space like? What are the entertainment options for visitors?

Orlando has checked off a lot of boxes for these events but certainly still has some ways to go.

The next big event Orlando should target is a return of the NBA All-Star Game. The event is a perfect fit for the city. Especially when the entertainment complex is built.

It will take some patience though. That facility has to get constructed and get established and I-4 construction does need to finish. If there was a complaint about the 2012 All-Star Game, it was the constant time on a bus traveling from the hotels and convention center to the arena for the events. That may be a barrier Orlando cannot overcome.

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Orlando though has positioned itself as a great place to host a sports event in the Southeast. It will remain so as long as it continues its investment in its sports infrastructure.

Orlando City and the Orlando Magic are doing their part with their own individual investments. Florida Citrus Sports has done a fantastic job marketing Camping World Stadium.

If the Magic can begin turning the corner and make the Playoffs, let alone become that sustainable winner Alex Martins constantly touts, then Amway Center will get its time in the limelight within the city for these major events.