The city of Orlando officially opened the Amway Center on Friday.
Fernando Medina/Orlando Magic
The day many Magic fans have been waiting for a long time -- and the city of Orlando has waited on for two years -- is finally here. Yesterday Orlando mayor Buddy Dyer officially opened the Amway Center with his State of the City address. Today nearly 50,000 Orlando and Orange County residents are expected to be at the new arena today for the community open house, which will allow residents to tour the arena for the first time.
The building is touted as the most technologically advanced in the country and it certainly will be a crown jewel in the NBA. The fan experience at Magic games is going to completely change. Not only is the product on the floor going to be at a championship level, but comfort in the arena and the amenities provided to fans will reach that level.
Amway Center was built amidst much controversy. It was a 10-year battle between the city and owner Rich DeVos. Opponents argued the city should not be subsidizing the wishes of a private owner. Hoteliers along International Drive were upset because it was largely their contributions that paid for the building.
There are undoubtedly questions and concerns about using public money to pay for these buildings. They rarely fulfill the promises they make. But the city wants to revitalize downtown, and a hallmark new arena will do a lot for that. The Amway Center should attract major events -- the 2012 All-Star Game will be at the Amway Center -- and put the city more front and center. Perhaps it will even attract tourists from the Disney/Universal area to check out Downtown Orlando.
From a quality of life standpoint, the arena gives Orlando residents more entertainment options. There will surely still be headaches. But the new arena is open. And, for now, let's marvel at the incredible building this community has.
There are a ton of great reviews of the Amway Center from the media tour around and they are all so effusive in praising the new building. Be sure to check them all out. Remember, opening night for the Magic is next Sunday against the Hornets and the regular season opener is Oct. 28 against the Wizards.
Feel free to share your comments about the new stadium with me on the comment section below or on twitter at @OMagicDaily.