How interesting it is that the Orlando Magic opened themselves a brand new arena when
they joined the NBA in 1989. Yet the old Amway Arena quickly became obsolete, as the
spate of construction of new venues in the 1990s throughout the NBA turned this facility into
a small and cramped relic of days gone by. On a couple occasions, there was even talk that
the Magic might move to greener pastures and better revenue producing venues, Kansas
City, Oklahoma City and even Las Vegas were brought into the mix. But in 2006, the city,
Orange County, and the Magic came together on a plan to build a new arena, combined with
a new performing arts center and even a remake of the Citrus Bowl football stadium. The
new arena, named the Amway Center, opened its doors in downtown Orlando in October of
Getting to the venue
Amway Arena is located on the corner of Church Street and Hughey Avenue, and is directly
adjacent to the I-4 expressway which cuts through the heart of downtown Orlando. Well
marked directional signage will lead you off the highway and into the arena neighborhood.
Public transportation is sparse here, although a SunRail commuter rail line station is
projected in the future. There are no less than three parking ramps in immediate proximity
to the arena, though on game nights they require prepaid passes. Private lots abound close
to the arena, with the closest ones to the venue charging a modest $10. Meters on the
streets are not monitored at night.
Outside the venue
The neighborhood outside the Amway Centre has been planned and developed to
accommodate arena patrons who are looking for things to do before and after the game.
Church Street, which runs along the north side of the arena, incorporates design elements
in terms of street pavers, landscaping and lighting, and is closed off on game days to allow
for pregame entertainment - concerts, games and rides, food and drink. Additionally, the
ramp on the north side of Church Street is lined with ground floor shops and eateries, also
adding to the neighborhood vibe.
To the west of the arena is a vast residential neighborhood of single family homes and
townhouses, a little bit seedy and run down. To the east, on the other side of the I-4 viaduct,
is the center of downtown Orlando, a mix of office and condos mostly. The historic Church
Street Station, with its replica New Orleans style frescoes and bars, restaurants and shops,
offers a nice option for pre and post game visits.
Architecture and seating bowl
The main entrance to the Amway Center is a gleaming glass marquee tower, with team
store and dot matrix LED sign right at the center, and a top level patio bar on the roof and the
base of the spire. The metallic silver facade is highlighted by another digital LED ad board
facing I-4, while the glass Disney atrium faces Church Street and the street plaza.
The seating bowl can accommodate almost 19,000 fans for basketball, and is a three level
venue with club seating in the center level, and a large "Ozone" skydeck in the upper most
reaches of one end zone allowing for standing room viewing from a bar and party area.
A four sided HD Daktronics scoreboard is the largest in the NBA, and is combined with two
circular ribbon boards and crowned by an eight sided LED panel, and all faces of this board
can be combined to produce a dazzling multimedia experience. Surround ribbon boards run
the circumference of the seating bowl on both the club and upper levels. Additionally, there
are companion LED panels above each concourse exit in the upper deck.
Sparkling, bright and gleaming with terrazzo marble flooring and vibrant Florida colors, the
main entrance, dubbed the "Disney Atrium", has a blue light chandelier hanging in the
window panes, and welcoming video boards along the entrance, where tall escalators take
fans to the main level of the arena. On that level is a "fan experience" section, basically a
walkable museum with exhibits of the Magic's two decades plus history. The Gentleman
Jack's outdoor bar offers dramatic views of the Orlando skyline, and even heat lamps on the
patio for when the nights get chilly.
In the uppermost deck, named the Promenade Level, the end zone Ozone area offers the
O3 bar and an adjacent children's play area which is quite extensive in size and amenities.
Food items here at the Amway Center run the gamut from your traditional ballpark fare, to
stands offering Puerto Rican, Seafood and BBQ. The crab cake sandwich and fish tacos are
real specialties, as is the Magic Burger served at the O-Town Grill, topped with cheese,
bacon and served on a pretzel like roll. How about chicken tequila lime nachos served with
marinated chicken. You can also find a Cuban sandwich served panini style, and southern
style hot dogs smothered in bbq sauce, onions and jalapenos. The food here is varied,
heaping helpings and pretty good stuff. Fans can also order a "bottomless" soda pop or
popcorn pail. The main team store is at the street level, although additional souvenir stands
can be found throughout the venue.
The most notable banner here, other than their old Arena Football League championships,
is a retired "#6" banner to salute the fans. Cheesy and gimmicky. Gratefully, a nicely
appointed team museum in the 100 level concourse makes up for this.
There are loge seats, which are almost like box seating on the club level and there is club
level seating of a more traditional configuration as well. Then there are tabletop seats on
the level, where fans can reserve a table with a view of the action. Down below, courtside
seats and "superstar seating", essentially sideline seats in the first few rows, offer access
to the Mercedes Benz Club Lounge on the floor level, which offers complimentary buffet,
snacks throughout the game and free beverages. A ring of suites, including Founders
suites, Presidents suites and Legends suites, offers different size configurations and are
one level up from the club level.
The Amway Center offers spaciousness, brightness, a good location, pretty good food
choices, and enough pomp and bells and whistles to make it a fun game day experience.
The way these scoreboards are being designed and rolled out just continue to dazzle. The
HD board here at the Amway Center is about as close as we've seen to an IMAX experience
it is really something to behold. All in all a glitzy, yet comfy and cozy arena, and the oft good
weather and being in such a tourist mecca definitely makes a visit to the Amway Center
worth the trip.
Slam dunks, assists, fouls
Slam dunk.. to our friends Denyse and Matt Seibel, who arranged for awesome tickets and
dinner in the cklub restaurant, not to mention puttting us up in their beautiful home. They are
proudly inducted into the USRT Hall of Fame.
Assist.. Matching LED boards top each of the entrances on the 300 level.
Slam dunk.. to the City of Orlando for taking good care of the old Amway Arena, carefully
removing seats and artifacts and putting them up for sale just 6 months after that venue
closed, rather than letting the building sit and rtot.
Slam dunk.. to our road trip peep Todd Faber, who nailed the ultimate upgrade, converting
his $20 GA ticket into a COurtside location. We'd tell you how he did it, but then we'd have to
Foul.. Yeah some nights are cold in Orlando, and that made the foray onto the outdoor patio
party deck a bit of a challenge. Still great views of the skyline from this vantage point.
Foul.. "#6" banner. Really?
Assist... Nonstop placement of TV monitors at just about every vantage poiht possible in the
Food and Team Store 8
Scoreboard and electronics 10
Fan Support 5.5
Location and neighborhood 7
Banners and history 6
in game entertainment 6
Concourses/fan comfort 7
Bonus: 100 level museum 1, Church St streetscape 1, HDTVs in concourses 1, Todd
Faber's courtside upgrade 1
To read the venue profile on the former home of the Orlando Magic, Amway Arena, please