Anatomy of the Amway
Highlights of the new venue's features.
Courtesy of the Orlando Magic
Tower and Spire
The symbol of Amway Center—and a likely landmark for the city itself—is the 180-foot tower (with its spire) that rises from the northeast corner of the building. Illuminated by 200 LEDs (light-emitting diodes) that change color to reflect the event inside (blue for Magic games, for example), the mesh-skin tower is sure to attract attention at night. Connecting the body of the building to the tower are three levels of indoor and outdoor balconies, with the hip Sky Bar (right) on the top deck.
Encased by hundreds of panels of windows, the front of the building (top) looks like a giant glass house. Visible to passersby will be the center’s spacious lobby area, through which about 80 percent of all visitors will enter. It leads to the concourse levels and the Magic’s retail store below the tower, as well as to the indoor and outdoor terraces protruding from the building’s northeast corner. “We’re visually inviting people in by making the events visible from outside,” says Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer. Adding to—or detracting from, depending on your point of view—the facility’s visual effect is a 54-by-46-foot LED display that’s bigger than a movie theater screen. Inset in the south end of the building, the display will show video clips and advertisements, something that has prompted some concern that it could distract motorists. If they stop texting while driving past the building they might catch part of a six-second clip.
Fronting the center is a vastly improved section of West Church Street (above), with trees and street lamps on both sides of the road. Roomy outdoor pedestrian plazas will provide gathering places before and after events. The city plans to close Church Street from Division Street to Orange Avenue during major events, turning that section of road into a pedestrian-friendly entertainment district.
The interior finishes and furnishings are sleek and rich. Forget the unadorned concrete found elsewhere; there’s blue-white-and-black terrazzo underfoot, wood-grain counters and more than 1,100 high-definition, flat-panel TV monitors linked to a central technology hub. The concourses average 30 feet across, wider than a two-lane street, and the center has seven levels above the ground floor.
Room to Roam
Amway Center is more than twice as big as the old arena (875,000 square feet vs. 367,000), yet there’s little difference in seating capacity (20,000 vs. 17,500). All that extra room is for amenities such as bars, restaurants, luxury suites, a children’s play area, outdoor/indoor terraces, a practice facility, team offices and 30-foot-wide concourses.
Amway Center likely will become the first NBA venue to gain LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification, a standard for green building design. “We expect to get at least a basic LEED certification,” says Alex Martins, president of the Magic, “but we’re hoping for silver. We won’t know until we open.” (Gold and platinum are the next two higher levels.) Martins says the Amway will use 20 percent less energy and 40 percent less water than arena buildings of similar size. Other green features include a reflective roof to keep the building cooler, improved ventilation for better air quality, low-flow plumbing fixtures and on-site stormwater treatment.
The South Street garage behind the Amway is the home of eight stainless steel artworks by Marcos Cruz of Winter Springs, shown here with one of his sculptures. There is a sculpture wall mounted beside the elevators on each level of the garage.
The Artsy Amway
Many areas of Amway Center will resemble an art gallery– even the arena’s parking garage. More than $750,000 was spent on artworks, many created by local artists.
There are as many ticket prices as there are seating options for Magic games. The team has said it will reserve more than 600 seats that sell for a measly $5 per game. Sure, they’re in the very top of the bowl, where the seats aren’t as comfy as in the lower sections, but with one of the world’s largest suspended scoreboards displaying game action, you’re not likely to miss anything on the court. A little farther down there’ll be 2,500 seats for $15 or less; 7,000 seats for $25 or less and 10,000 seats for $50 or less. Courtside seating ranges from $275 to $1,350 per game (food and beverages included), or $12,375 to $60,750 per season. Want to attend every Amway Center event for a year and be treated like you own the place? An annual membership to the Legends Suite costs $13,500, and includes food and beverage, access to private restrooms, and a parking pass, among other privileges.
Amway Center is the first arena in the world to use high-resolution, 6mm surface mount LED (light-emitting diode) pixel technology on all the center-hung scoreboard’s digital displays. For Magic fans at the games, all that tech speak means a visual experience like none other. Built by Daktronics, the 40-ton, 41-by-42-foot scoreboard is the largest in the NBA. With 840 lines of resolution in each of the scoreboard’s four, 24-by-17-foot high-definition LED video screens, it will allow you to read Dwight Howard’s lips as he dunks over Shaq when the Celtics come to town on Dec. 25. Merry Christmas, Mr. O’Neal.
An estimated 10 miles of wiring provide power and signal to the scoreboard.
Less Time in Lines
There is one point of sale for every 125 patrons in the new building vs. a 1:215 ratio in the old facility. So, you’ll get a dog and a beer and be back in your seat before halftime ends.
What a Relief!
There are 37 restrooms (18 men’s, 19 women’s) in Amway Center, vs. eight in the old arena. That’s nearly 450 toilets in the new building.
The main concept behind the new center was to make its numerous visitor amenities accessible to all ticket buyers. Besides the 23 concession stands, there are bars and restaurants, a kids’ activity area, and indoor and outdoor terraces open to all visitors. Among the highlights are:
The Budweiser Baseline Bar (above) on the south end of the Terrace Level, the midsection of the building. Designed with terrazzo flooring, granite bar tops and flat-screen TVs, it has the feel of a hip sports bar. The BBB overlooks the inner bowl, giving bar patrons a wide viewing area of the arena.
Go one level higher, to the Club floor, and there’s Jernigan’s Restaurant, a full-service sit-down area with seating for 300. A pre-opening tour of Amway Center revealed an airy space with modern light fixtures, wood-grain columns, a theater kitchen, chef’s table dining experience, and best of all, a tiered arrangement of tables overlooking the arena. Luxury suite guests and Magic season ticket holders get priority seating.
Situated on the northeast corner of the building and 100 feet above Church Street, the Sky Bar has the potential to become Orlando’s hottest nightspot. The indoor/outdoor space embraces the Amway’s iconic—and illuminated—tower rising above I-4.
If the kids get antsy sitting in their seats, take them to Stuff’s Magic Castle, a play area—complete with arcade games and activity sections—for kids 2 to 12. It’s on the Promenade Level (Level 5) in the southwest corner of the building. Next door is the Ozone Bar, where parents can hang out. It overlooks the arena bowl and has a viewing window into the play area, so parents can keep an eye on the action in two places at once.
On non-event days, the terraces, bars and restaurants can be rented for private parties.
In a clever display of corporate marketing, AirTran’s suite, The AirTran Airways Flight Deck, resembles a terminal boarding gate and passenger jet interior.
Seats & Suites
The seats in the old arena were uncomfortable, with little leg room between the rows. Not only are the lower bowl seats in the new facility wider and designed with more leg room, there are more types of seats and luxury suites, with a capacity for 20,000 spectators (18,500 for Magic games). At the old facility, some of the best-paying customers sat high up in luxury boxes, far from the action. Not so at the Amway, where the Founder’s Level of luxury suites is only 19 rows from the floor. Amway has 60 private suites on two levels, the highest only 27 rows from the floor.
The eight-level, 1,876-vehicle South Street parking garage (above) sits directly behind Amway Center and is connected to it by a pedestrian bridge on the fifth floor. Motorists willing to pay the $20 fee for event parking ($10 on nonevent days) will notice there is no parking on the ramps, eliminating traffic backups due to vehicles pulling into or backing out of spaces, and the ramps are direct, so you don’t have to circle around the floor to get to the next level. Additionally, a display system tells you how many parking spots are available on each floor. While the 602-space Church Street Garage that’s directly across from the center will charge $20 during events, too, other city-owned parking areas will charge $10. According to the Magic, there are 6,967 parking spaces within a five-minute walk of the center, 2,676 spaces less than 10 minutes from there and another 3,738 spaces farther away. On game nights, Magic fans can hop on free Lynx shuttles running through downtown to the Center.
The Magic’s New Home
This month, the team’s front offices and players move into the new facility to work and practice, leaving RDV Sportsplex in Maitland. The practice floor is located at ground level with floor-to-ceiling glass along the entire length of the court facing the sidewalk on Division Street. Shades can be drawn for practices closed to public viewing. The players get a huge circular locker room, furnished with a flat-screen TV, wood-grain lockers and benches, and cushy carpeting. The coaches get a new locker room, too, one of a total of six locker rooms in the building, in case multiple teams are playing in a tournament, for instance.