Orlando Magic partner with Kia to rename arena Kia Center, join the ride to the top

The Orlando Magic will now play their home games in the KIA Center. It is the same building they moved into for the 2011 season with a new name after the Amway Center naming rights deal expired.
The Orlando Magic's home arena now has a new name as the Amway Center was redubbed the Kia Center on Wednesday.
The Orlando Magic's home arena now has a new name as the Amway Center was redubbed the Kia Center on Wednesday. / Mark Brown/GettyImages

The Orlando Magic feel they are a team on the rise. They can see that on the basketball court with how their team is playing, growing to the top of the Eastern Conference. They can feel that with the energy inside their home building. They can touch it with how good Paolo Banchero has become in such a short time -- the reigning Kia NBA Rookie of the Year.

Everyone wants to get on this ride and this journey. Everyone is starting to feel just how good this Magic team can be.

Kia has been along for that ride for some time. Since the building opened, the car manufacturer has had one of their vehicles up in the corner of the arena bowl on the "Kia Terrace." The car company has had a presence in the building.

As Amway opted to shift toward an international focus with its relationship with the Magic, the team needed someone to join them on their ride to the top.

Kia became a natural partner not just because they have a longstanding relationship with the NBA -- not just a 15-year partnership with the Magic with signage and that area inside the building but a longstanding relationship as the official vehicle sponsor of the NBA and its awards. They have not-so-quietly been a part of the Magic family for some time.

Now that partnership is a little bit bigger. The connection could not be any more obvious.

The Orlando Magic's new arena was officially renamed the Kia Center on Wednesday, replacing Amway as the arena naming rights brand to the stadium the Magic have called home since the 2010-11 season. It is a connection that makes sense considering the wider connection to the league, Kia's national recognition as a brand and Orlando's place as one of the growing metropolises in the nation.

For both the Magic and Kia it made a lot of sense. Not just because of Kia's national brand recognition and presence in both the Florida and Orlando markets. But because both the team and the company feel they are on the rise.

The timing might have been coincidental -- contracts expire when they expire -- but the two organizations felt something a of a kindred spirit at this particular point in time.

"[Kia America president and CEO SeungYun "Sean"] Yoon said it to me perfectly as we were having breakfast, we're coming into this at the same trajectory and same timing for both of our organizations," Magic CEO Alex Martins said Wednesday. "We are both on the rise and both coming to the top of our game. I think it says a lot about the Magic brand that Kia wants to come along on that ride with us as we continue to improve our team and get back into contention for an NBA championship. I think the timing for Kia is perfect as this Orlando Magic team continues to improve."

Martins said this partnership was a long time in the making. He said the team talked to more than 300 companies over the past year and a half before finalizing the deal in the last six months. Terms of the deal were not disclosed per team policy. But it is a multi-year deal, Kia America VP of Marketing Russell Wager confirmed.

The facts are that both companies seem to be on the rise.

The Magic have seemingly come out of a long rebuilding and fallow period to get off to a 16-9 start to the season and fourth in the Eastern Conference past the quarter mark of the season. They have established a strong defense and seem set to record their second .500-plus season since 2013 and just their third playoff appearance in that time.

And it feels like it is something that is just starting for the team.

Kia itself feels like it is making that kind of growth too. They are in the top five in market share in car sales in the United States. Florida has become Kia's best-selling market and Central Florida its highest-market-share region within that state. That made the partnership even more natural considering that synergy.

"Putting the name on a venue shows a further commitment to the community," Wager said Wednesday. "What we learned from that venue in Southern California [the Kia Forum in Inglewood, Calif.] is that it's a way to give back to our owners and future customers. We've obviously been a partner with the Magic for 15 years. We've done a lot of great things together and a lot for our customers, we think we can expand that."

The Magic and Kia will become greater partners in that process. The Magic announced Kia will become one of the team's "champions of the community."

On top of that, Kia owners will have access to a special lounge within the Kia Center to further activate them and serve them. In addition to more showcases of the brand throughout the building. They will also install EV charging stations around the arena too.

Locally, Kia has 11 dealerships in Central Florida, one of the fastest-growing markets in the country according to the Magic and Kia's press release. Kia has been recognized as one of the TIME100 Most Influential Companies of 2023 and was named the Most Dependable Mass Market Brand for three years in a row by J.D. Power and Associates.

As Magic chairman Dan DeVos noted during the introductory press conference, his auto dealership company owns a Kia dealership in Grand Rapids, Mich. (the DeVos family's home base).

Kia is also using the announcement as a chance to launch their new electric SUV and part of the deal will include adding EV charging stations to the building and displays within the building highlighting their products.

"It just seemed like the timing of all of it came together perfectly," Martins said Wednesday. "Both organizations feel like this is a partnership that can grow and bring us both to the top of our industries."

The new name will certainly take some getting used to. The building has been called the Amway Center since it opened in October 2010 and Amway, the company owned by then-Magic chairman Rich DeVos and his family, who still own the team, held the naming rights to the original Orlando Arena from 2006 until its final game in the 2010 Eastern Conference Finals.

It is going to be hard for Kia to offend anyone. And that is probably a victory for everyone when it comes to stadium naming rights.

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It will not change much on the court either way. It is the name on a building. But it brings an interesting corporate partnership to the game. Kia is certainly happy to be along for the ride.