Amway Center Media Tour Shows Amenities, Impresses Everyone

Bruce Maddox - Orlando Pinstriped Post

Today, the City of Orlando officially opened Amway Center to the public. A ribbon-cutting ceremony, followed by Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer's State of Downtown Address, highlighted the public portion of the day; an Open House takes place tomorrow. After these events, Mayor Dyer and Orlando Magic President Alex Martins took the assembled media on a nearly comprehensive tour of the building; I say "nearly comprehensive" because it did not include a look at the press seating area (oddly enough) or the Magic's locker room. What follows the jump is an in-depth recap of our visit, with a major assist from site photographer Bruce Maddox, who took over 200 photos at the event. You'll see 24 of those here.

MERCEDES-BENZ STAR LOUNGE

Bruce Maddox - Orlando Pinstriped Post

We began in the Mercedez-Benz Star Lounge, the only premium amenity not available to every level of ticket-buyer. Martins explained that only fans with courtside seats, or with seats in rows 1-7 of the Superstar Level, have access to the Star Lounge. On one side, it is open from the tunnel leading from the Magic's locker room to the court, allowing fans to interact with the players before and after the game. This area serves a similar function to Club Blue at the old Amway Arena, though to say "mirrors" would be to do the Star Lounge a disservice, for it is far swankier than Club Blue was.

Bruce Maddox - Orlando Pinstriped Post

The other side of the Star Lounge looks out into the opposite hallway, leading from the visitors' locker room to the court. However, Martins said he wanted to make sure there wasn't any way for fans to "throw anything" at opposing players, which is why this side of the room does not feature an open window or space. At this point, Mayor Dyer wondered if Miami Heat forward LeBron James could have been a target of a thrown object, had Martins allowed open windows on this side as well. Laughter ensued.

Mayor Dyer also said that the Star Lounge is one of approximately 17 spaces in Amway Center the City of Orlando can rent out during days when the Magic do not have a game, which represents more revenue streams for the City Beautiful.

VISITING-TEAM LOCKER ROOM

Bruce Maddox - Orlando Pinstriped Post

We next took a look at the visitors' locker room; the Magic's was off limits at the moment. With wood decor and spacious lavatory and shower space, it's rather top-of-the-line. Martins said that the rehabilitation and practice facilities on this side of the building, including an underwater rehabilitation area, can serve as a free-agent recruiting tool, showing prospective signees that the team will spare no expense in giving them the very best equipment. Mayor Dyer said it was important to him, in the planning stages of this project, make the Magic more visible in the Downtown Orlando area. Martins illustrated how the Amway Center serves this purpose by pointing out that one wall of the team's practice court is made of glass, and that during "non-critical practice situations," the shades will be opened to allow people walking down Division Avenue to see the players put through the paces.

FOUNDER LEVEL SUITES

Our next stop was the Founder Level of suites, which sits just 19 rows up from the court. These suites are available for purchase on a multi-year basis and include tickets to all Amway Center events, not simply Magic games. The hallways on this level are adorned with fine art from 21 artists, 14 of whom hail from Central Florida. Notably, Roy McLendon, One of the original Highwaymen, has contributed art to the Amway Center.

This level also houses the Magic's corporate office. This Vitruvian Man-style painting of Dwight Howard, by local artist Tom Mosser, is the highlight:

Bruce Maddox - Orlando Pinstriped Post

Curator Tracie Speca-Ventura of Sports & The Arts said later she believes this painting will launch Mosser's career. Paintings in this area also depict the Magic's two NBA Finalist teams. The first shows Penny Hardaway, Dennis Scott, Shaquille O'Neal, Nick Anderson, and Horace Grant:

Bruce Maddox - Orlando Pinstriped Post

The second shows Hedo Turkoglu, Howard, a facemask-clad Courtney Lee, Rashard Lewis, and Jameer Nelson:

Bruce Maddox - Orlando Pinstriped Post

I have to admit I gasped involuntarily while walking this hallway.

BUDWEISER BASELINE BAR

Bruce Maddox - Orlando Pinstriped Post

We continued to the Budweiser Baseline Bar. This wide-open area includes a full, lower-bowl view of the court and features several varieties of Budweiser on tap. This portion of the tour also included a sampling of food. I rather enjoyed the pulled-pork slider with cabbage and onion.

NUTRILITE MAGIC FAN EXPERIENCE

Further on, we visited the Nutrilite Magic Fan Experience, which Mayor Dyer likened to a sort of museum of Magic history. Although it was not fully complete--several television monitors had yet to be installed, for instance--it was still impressive. One feature that stands out here here is the Tonight's Lineup section, which will showcase life-size cutouts of the five Magic starters on game nights, thus providing an excellent photo opportunity. Notably, this area has an exhibit highlighting O'Neal's tenure in Orlando, despite his less-than-acrimonious exit from the franchise in 1996:

Bruce Maddox - Orlando Pinstriped Post

I'm interested to see how fans respond to that area.

GENTLEMAN JACK TERRACE

Bruce Maddox - Orlando Pinstriped Post

Our next stop was the Gentleman Jack Terrace, located on the iconic, 180-foot tower on the intersection of Church Street and Hughey Avenue. This area will be open even on nights when the Magic don't play. Mayor Dyer several times referred to it as a "hotspot." He believes the Amway Center will go a long way toward revitalizing Downtown, and the Tower's year-round prominence and relevance is one way of reaching that goal.

The Gentleman Jack Terrace features this sculpture, entitled "Rain:"

Bruce Maddox - Orlando Pinstriped Post

As you can see, it starts here and descends to street level, next to the box-office.

JERNIGAN'S RESTAURANT

Bruce Maddox - Orlando Pinstriped Post

We then moved on to Jernigan's Restaurant, a reference to the original name of the City of Orlando. Located above the Budweiser Baseline Bar, Jernigan's is indeed open to every ticketholder, although it does require a reservation in advance. Here, I sampled a shortrib sandwich, which proved to be a religious experience; a tempura-battered portabello mushroom with soy dipping sauce, which I enjoyed despite not eating a mushroom in over a decade; and a smoked-salmon treat, which was slightly less spectacular, but then again, I don't really enjoy seafood. This restaurant features artwork and fixtures from the original Church Street Station the Magic organization purchased at auction, which further reflects the connection to the community. The restaurant extends out into the arena bowl, giving a clear view of the court.

Bruce Maddox - Orlando Pinstriped Post

You can eat an excellent meal and watch some top-flight hoops action at the same time.

While we sampled the offerings at Jernigan's, the building crew raised the scoreboard from floor level to its normal place in the ceiling. All the screens on the scoreboard are six-millimeter High Definition, the very finest in the NBA. Additionally, the main video board measures 42 feet high, making it the tallest in the NBA. Also note the very slick score-presentation template itself:

Bruce Maddox - Orlando Pinstriped Post

OZONE and STUFF'S MAGIC CASTLE

Bruce Maddox - Orlando Pinstriped Post

We took the elevator to the upper-most bowl, the OZONE, which also features Stuff's Magic Castle, a play area for children. And, on this tour, for adults as well. I took a trip down the slide, which was too quick for Bruce's camera to capture blur-free, and dunked on one of the many hoops located in the area:

Bruce Maddox - Orlando Pinstriped Post

Life-size cutouts of Magic players adorn the walls. One of the coolest features is the array of basketballs projecting upward along the wall, allowing young fans to test how high they can jump. George Diaz of the Orlando Sentinel and I agreed that this area is the most fun part of the arena.

Here's a view of the floor from the back-most row in the OZONE.

Bruce Maddox - Orlando Pinstriped Post

While this view isn't precisely from one of the five-dollar seats, it is comparable to what one would be. The five-dollar seating level is on the opposite side of the arena.

FAIRWINDS TOWER ROOM

Bruce Maddox - Orlando Pinstriped Post

The next leg of the tour took us to the Fairwinds Tower Room, located above the Gentleman Jack Terrace in the Amway Center Tower. This enclosed space, as Mayor Dyer pointed out, will become a top destination for luncheons and wedding receptions; indeed, it is another part of the facility the City of Orlando can rent out on "dark days." It affords a beautiful view of the Downtown Orlando skyline and Interstate Four.

SKY BAR

Bruce Maddox - Orlando Pinstriped Post

The highlight of the tour--yes, even more fun than Stuff's Magic Castle--was also its final stop: the Sky Bar, located at the tip-top of the tower. Here, we were treated to an outrageous array of truly fine deserts inside...

Bruce Maddox - Orlando Pinstriped Post

... and an even more breathtaking view of the Orlando skyline outside:

Bruce Maddox - Orlando Pinstriped Post

Sky Bar also features contemporary seating. I found these chairs rather fancy:

Bruce Maddox - Orlando Pinstriped Post

And this light fixture inside Sky Bar also caught my eye:

Bruce Maddox - Orlando Pinstriped Post

I particularly like the SunTrust building in the background of that shot.

The Tower itself is indeed Amway Center's most iconic feature. Here's a view shot from the Sky Bar porch:

Bruce Maddox - Orlando Pinstriped Post

It is encased in a stainless-steel mesh and illuminated by LED lights that can change color to suit a variety of events. Magic blue figures to be the default, but Mayor Dyer said it will turn red for Orlando Predators games, for example. Alpha Manufacturing, Inc., an Orlando company, built the mesh. Mayor Dyer stressed, both on the tour and in his State of Downtown Address, the importance of adhering to what he called The Blueprint, which called for using local contractors and companies to build the Amway Center whenever possible.

ERRATA

Here, I'd like to mention a few points that I didn't get to cover in the above narrative.

First, I think it's key that the main entrance to the building is on ground level. It's more welcoming than having to trudge up steps, as one had to do at Amway Arena.

The ground-level portion of the Tower will house the Magic Team Shop, presented by adidas, though it has yet to open.

The concourses--not "concourse," as was the case at Amway Arena--are wide, tiered, and feature a wealth of dining options, with merchandise areas as well. This photo, taken from the terrace level overlooking the main lobby, really underscores that difference:

Bruce Maddox - Orlando Pinstriped Post

CONCLUSION

In his State of Downtown Address, Mayor Dyer made a point similar to the one I made last night, calling the building "an icon of civic pride and identity" for the Orlando community. Magic CEO and Vice Chairman Bob Vander Weide, speaking moments before Mayor Dyer, said, "the beauty, charm, character, and quality of this building reflects the character of this community." Over a year ago, well before the building really began to take shape, NBA Commissioner David Stern said the building "is going to be a 'wow,'" upon touring the construction site.

And you know what? They're all right.

The Magic and the City of Orlando didn't waver in their vision for this facility. Small touches inextricably link the building to the Central Florida area, including artwork based on the orange-crate labels of local citrus growers, as well as the aforementioned Church Street Station decorations in Jernigan's, which itself owes its name to the city. Further, 120 local companies participated in the project, including thirteen from the Parramore community.

The point here, in this post, is that Amway Center is truly a special facility whose ties to the area go beyond the superficial. You really do owe it to yourself to visit, perhaps tomorrow during the Community Open House. I look forward to covering the Magic's first game there--that's October 10th, against the New Orleans Hornets--as a member of the media, and maybe attending another game or two as a fan.

X
Log In Sign Up

forgot?
Log In Sign Up

Please choose a new SB Nation username and password

As part of the new SB Nation launch, prior users will need to choose a permanent username, along with a new password.

Your username will be used to login to SB Nation going forward.

I already have a Vox Media account!

Verify Vox Media account

Please login to your Vox Media account. This account will be linked to your previously existing Eater account.

Please choose a new SB Nation username and password

As part of the new SB Nation launch, prior MT authors will need to choose a new username and password.

Your username will be used to login to SB Nation going forward.

Forgot password?

We'll email you a reset link.

If you signed up using a 3rd party account like Facebook or Twitter, please login with it instead.

Forgot password?

Try another email?

Almost done,

By becoming a registered user, you are also agreeing to our Terms and confirming that you have read our Privacy Policy.

Join Orlando Pinstriped Post

You must be a member of Orlando Pinstriped Post to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at Orlando Pinstriped Post. You should read them.

Join Orlando Pinstriped Post

You must be a member of Orlando Pinstriped Post to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at Orlando Pinstriped Post. You should read them.

Spinner.vc97ec6e

Authenticating

Great!

Choose an available username to complete sign up.

In order to provide our users with a better overall experience, we ask for more information from Facebook when using it to login so that we can learn more about our audience and provide you with the best possible experience. We do not store specific user data and the sharing of it is not required to login with Facebook.

tracking_pixel_9347_tracker