The Orlando Magic announced today that the franchise and the Amway Center have been named finalists for Street & Smith's Sports Business Journal and Sports Business Daily's annual Sports Business Awards. The Magic are up for Sports Franchise of the Year and the Amway Center is up for Sports Facility of the Year. The awards will be announced May 18 in New York.
The Magic are going up against the Pittsburgh Penguins, World Series champion San Francisco Giants, the New York Jets and Chip Gnassi Racing for Sports Franchise of the Year. The Amway Center is going up against Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, Consol Energy Centre in Pittsburgh, New Meadowlands Stadium in East Rutherford, NJ, Red Bull Park outside New York City and Target Field in Minneapolis. All but one of those facilities is brand new.
We all know how amazing the Amway Center is. A major upgrade -- facilities and amenities wise at least -- to the Orlando Arena. And its closer proximity to Church Street seems to be doing good things for the downtown entertainment district. Amway Center has not made good on all its promises yet, but it has served as a good home for the Magic in its inaugural season.
Really both of these awards are about how far the Magic have come as a franchise. From my experience, the gameday experience is fantastic. Ticket season holders are treated very well by customer service and are very responsive. There is a great in-game show -- if you are not interested in basketball -- and some of the best people in the business working the sidelines -- such as PA announcer Paul Porter.
Could that aspect be better? Yeah.
Complaints about Amway Center is that there are too many distractions, it is too corporate and the real fans are kept further away from the action. I would agree with a lot of those complaints, but that is also a trend in stadiums across the NBA. There is just not a lot to do about it.
Really, the franchise itself has jumped leaps and bounds from where it was 10 years ago. Putting together a winning product certainly helps. This is the most sustained run of success in franchise history and fans have been eating it up as Orlando has sold out its last 110 or so games.
The other thing is Rich DeVos has opened up his pocket book and is more willing to spend. That has done a lot to show the team is willing to win and fans actually respond to that. The more you put in, the more you get out, I guess.
There is also the Magic's extensive work in the community. The Magic donates about $2 million per year and raises $16 million per year through the Orlando Magic Youth Foundation.
Of course, we all know things are not so rosy in the future.
But avoiding dark talk about the future, this is great for the franchise and recognition of a lot of the hard work that goes in to making the Magic so enjoyable to watch. Hopefully these guys will not be the only group bringing hom hardware for the Magic this summer.