Tomorrow morning at 10:01 AM, the City of Orlando will officially open the doors of the Amway Center to the public for the first time. It's the culminating event of several years' worth of hard work, beginning with the Orange County Commission's approving its construction on July 26, 2007. And while the Orlando Magic will indeed be the highest-profile tenants of the building, it's important to remember that it belongs to us, the Central Florida community.
So tomorrow, I ask you to set aside any concerns you have about the Magic. The consolodation of power in Miami? Ignore it. Rashard Lewis potentially playing at small forward more often? You'll see how it shakes out when the preseason begins next week. Marcin Gortat's mohawk? That'll solve itself soon enough.
Really, just appreciate that the fact that the arena's very existence ensures the Magic will continue to call Central Florida home for the forseeable future. It's not a great time for NBA teams in small markets looking to improve their facilities; the Sacramento Kings, for instance, just came up against a big obstacle in their efforts to obtain land for a new arena, continuing to fuel rumors they could flee for Kansas City, Las Vegas, or another town hungry for an NBA team. They have until the end of February to file for relocation. While I believe the DeVos family is committed to keeping the Magic in Orlando, I do think the same scenario the Kings are facing now is one with which the Magic could have been confronted had the arena measure not passed.
As I said, there's time soon enough to worry about the on-court product. But the Amway Center opening will only happen once. It's something we ought to appreciate, and not only for its association with our only major professional sports team. I encourage you to come out to the event tomorrow. The festivities begin at 9:30 AM, with the official ribbon-cutting ceremony starting at 10:01. After that ceremony, you're invited to attend Mayor Buddy Dyer's State of Downtown address, which will take place inside the arena's lower bowl.
The weekend also offers more events, if you can't make it to tomorrow's. Saturday from 2 to 4 PM, the City will host a Community Open House at the Amway Center. You'll need to get tickets in advance at AmwayCenter.com, but they are free.
Sunday, from 1 to 4 PM, the Magic will conduct the first Select-A-Seat event in the building's history. Here, you'll have the opportunity to "select the best remaining seats and prices for the 2010-11 season," according to a team release. For complete information, I refer you to the Magic's website.