Our first trip to see the Magic was combined with a little bit of sightseeing in the Orlando
area, and we were glad to have Pete's mom and dad, John and Carol Farrell, join us for this
installment of the Ultimate Sports Road Trip. And in 2003, this venue was our first stop
since the "official" portion of the trip was completed, and a chance to see Peter's beloved
New York Knicks in action.
Getting to the venue
The T.D. Waterhouse Centre has been the home of the Magic since the teams inception in
1989, and also houses the Arena Football Orlando Predators. This arena is located in the
midst of an office park called the Centroplex, on the outskirts of downtown Orlando, and is
easily reached via expressway access off I-4. Just follow the signs off the interstate and
you are there.
Outside the venue
The arena is nestled in the middle of an office park, and the grounds surrounding the
building are beautifully landscaped, with nice walkways, fountains, and even a small lake
directly to the north. The area between the arena and the interstate has parking ramps,
office buildings and a hotel (with a cool sports bar). But going in the other direction... let's
just say not the best of neighborhoods, although homes are neatly manicured. Plenty of
parking to be found, and arena parking is a bargain $5! Satellite parking lots abound on
private home lawns and open lots under the interstate.
The building and concourses
The T D Waterhouse building is still a sleek and attractive building, with white granite and
glass facades on all four sides. Entrances to the building pretty much span both sidelines,
with a building wide staircase taking you to the glass doors. With absolutely no entrance
lobby, you walk through one set of doors and that takes you directly into the concourse.
The concourses are wide, clean and bright. This is a single concourse building which rings
the top of the lower lever seating bowl. Staircases at each alcove take you to upper deck
seating. Concourses here are decorated with colorful flags and concession canopies, as
well as remote concession carts. Otherwise there is little here that is special or unique.
The "O-Rena" as the locals call it, seats a little over 17,000 seats for basketball. The bowl is
divided into two levels, all emptying into a single wide concourse which circles the venue.
All the seats are colored wine red. In the center of the bowl is a four sided jumbotron and
companion dot matrix panels. Two ad panels on each balcony sideline are stationary, and
there is little else in the way of high end bells and whistles to enhance the game
Lots of food variety here... the fresh pretzels prepared to order were pretty good, and
there was a remote cart offering chinese food and Buffalo wings (sorry the Buffalo wings
were not even close to the real deal). Also a carving station offering smoked turkey and
prime rib sandwiches. No team merchandise store here, but multiple counters in the
corridors offering an ample variety of souvenirs.
Being built in the era before this became the thing to do, the T D Waterhouse Centre is
pretty much devoid of any premium seats or club level seating. There is a ring of skyboxes
along each sideline at the top of the building.
A members only club called the Montecristo Club can be found at ground level on the east
side of the building adjacent to the ticket offices. This club is also accessible via a small
unmarked elevator from the main concourse. Club membership is available to season ticket
holders in any seating price range, and amenities there include a humidor and cigar lounge.
Ridiculous banner department --- "#6 - The Fan". Please don't get too misty eyed over this
one! Accompanying this banner is a second one celebrating the team's 1995 conference
Slam dunks, assists, fouls
Slam dunk - If you are a basketball Fan, then make sure to visit NBA city in the Universal
City complex in Orlando. This theme restaurant has a lot of cool memorabilia, TV monitors
everywhere, a game section in the front of the restaurant and a terrific gift shop.
Foul - to Bill, the octogenerian usher, errr... "sphincter police", stationed at sec 235-236. We
watched the ushers around the seating bowl, and most stood quietly at their posts, offering
a smile and ready to assist if needed. Not this maniac!!! Up and down the stairs he ran,
checking tickets, tossing people, admonishing patrons as they went in and out as to his
version of proper fan etiquette. There were THOUSANDS of empty seats in the building on
this night, and with people like that on the staff, gee, why aren't we surprised.
Bill's antics are well known to the regulars. Shannon Hang, the season ticket holder from
whom we bought our seats on Ebay, wrote us after and said that this usher's act is a show
in itself. If you're a regular reader of this website, then you know what we think of game day
staff who behave this way. FOUL, ejection and fine!
Foul - The hex of the Ultimate Sports Road Trip on the New York Knicks regretfully
continues. After posting a 63-51 Knicks halftime lead, Magic forward Tracy McGrady went on
fire in the 4th quarter, and the result was a three point win for Orlando. Eight losses and
counting for the Knicks in our presence!
Hard to believe that buildings like this are so outmoded in this age of new venue
construction. This is a sleek and modern arena, but falling quickly out of date compared to
the new NBA venues that have opened. More disappointing, Orlando is a one sport city,
and that includes no major college teams. There is a large population base here and
Orlando is a major tourist center. The team has been competitive year in and year out and
they are usually in the playoff hunt come April. Yet this team really does not draw all that
well, and tickets are usually plentiful on game days. For a while there were rumblings for a
new arena, but all has been quiet of late. So we rank this venue lower than most, only
because its peer arenas are that much nicer. Check it out for yourself... just steer clear of
Bill the usher in sec 235-236!
Food and team store 4
Scoreboard and electronics 4
Fan support 4
Location and neighborhood 5
Banners and history 4
In game entertainment 5
Concourses/fan comfort 6
Bonus: 2 for NBA City Restaurant at Universal Studios
T D Waterhouse