After 18 months of exhausting negotiations and a nearly 10-hour marathon meeting, the Orange County Commission approved a $1.1 billion plan July 26th for a new arena, performing arts center and major Citrus Bowl upgrades for Orlando.
For the city it means the largest public building project in Central Florida history and for the Orlando Magic it means the NBA team has a permanent home. Magic COO Alex Martins said the team will stay at the 18,500-seat arena beyond its 25-year lease for its entire life, according to the Orlando Sentinel.
"I honestly think we’ll someday look back on this day in the same light as when Walt Disney announced he was bringing Disney World to Orlando," Martins said, according to Florida Today.
The team hopes to start shooting hoops in the new facility by the 2010 season. The $480 million arena, the most expensive project in the package, will replace the aging 17,500-capacity Amway Arena.
Amway, the third oldest building in the NBA, will be sold and could be razed. The new arena is projected to be 750,000 square feet. At more than twice the size of the older arena, there’s room for more than three times the number of luxury suites.
The Magic was anxious to get out of the 18-year-old Amway and the day before the vote agreed to donate $12.5 million toward the construction of five community recreation centers in Orange County.
Another factor that may have swayed commissioners in favor of the plan was a pledge to make the arena the NBA’s first green-friendly facility.
The Magic also donated $50 million toward the construction of the arena and $10 million toward the arts center. With operations, fundraising and financing, the team has contributed $158 million.
The new performing arts center, which will replace the Bob Carr Performing Arts Centre, includes three state-of-the-art performance halls at a cost of $425 million.
Improvements to the 76,000-capacity Citrus Bowl are estimated at $175 million. Enhancements might ensure the area doesn’t lose the Capital One Bowl, the Champs Sports Bowl and the Florida Classic, and will attract other major football events.
A tourist tax is expected to bring in approximately $540 million and $430 million will come from property taxes, bonds and donors, according to Florida Today.