Monday, 10 January 2011, 0724
Opening its doors after two years of construction on 29 January 1989, the Orlando Arena was home to seven sporting teams and provided space for numerous concerts and special events. It closed on 30 September 2010 after twenty-one years, eight months and two days of operation, replaced by Amway Center three-quarters of a mile to the south.
My most memorable experiences at the facility, later known as TD Waterhouse Centre, The arena in Orlando and finally Amway Arena, were the times I performed with the band and assisted with A/V equipment during three Lake Brantley High School graduation ceremonies not to mention my own graduation there. A few of those years, I also produced the program distributed to graduates and guests.
I remember the long corridors below the seating where athletes and musicians would walk from the locker and green rooms to the main floor. For events during hockey season, they covered the ice with a composite material that did little to contain the cold, much to the chagrin of anyone spending time on it.
Someone once offered me a tour of the catwalk and rafters, but they unfortunately changed employers before I could take them up on it. I did have a chance to operate the MagicVision jumbotron once though, but it was a little anticlimactic as the control room was nowhere in sight of the large display.
The final sporting event to take place at the O-Rena occurred on 24 July 2010 when the Orlando Predators hosted the Oklahoma City Yard Dawgz, teams in the Arena Football League. I was there tailgating with family and friends before watching the Predators trounce the Yard Dawgz, 49–21. The last event ever was held sixty-eight days later, a performance by dancers from some television show called So You Think You Can Dance.
Although officially replaced the next day by Amway Center, the demolition date for Amway Arena is yet unscheduled. A statement by Alex Martins of Orlando Magic management indicates it should occur sometime this year. Once razed, the arena's land will be redeveloped into Creative Village, a mixed-use office, residential, education, retail and entertainment zone.
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