ORLANDO – A lot of local sports fans are, to say the very least, excited and charged up about the Orlando Magic hosting the upcoming NBA All-Star game on Feb. 26 at the Amway Center.
But when the Orlando City Council met on Monday, it was also clear that the city’s political and business leaders are just as enthusiastic – and not necessarily because they’re longtime basketball fans.
Mayor Buddy Dyer and members of the commission made it clear during the meeting in the council chamber at City Hall that they expect Orlando to get a much-needed economic boost from the week of activities planned at the Orange County Convention Center and then at the Amway Center in downtown Orlando leading up to the big game – activities that could bring 150,000 people to the city that week.
“That’s going to bring great economic activity to our downtown,” Dyer said during the council meeting, when he asked commissioners to approve a request by the NBA to extend the sale of alcohol hours within the city for the game.
He also asked the council to approve the placement of 2012 All-Star banners on street lights across the city, although the mayor acknowledged that he doesn’t have an easy solution to one of the most frequent complaints about this event.
“How do you get tickets? It’s hard, I can tell you that,” Dyer acknowledged. “The best option for residents are the jam sessions on International Drive. Those jam sessions are a lot of fun.”
The 2012 NBA All-Star Game will be played on Feb. 26 at the Amway Center, the home of the Orlando Magic. The Magic were awarded the All-Star Game on May 4, 2010 in an announcement by commissioner David Stern. This is the second time that Orlando has hosted the All-Star Game, the first one being in 1992 in the Orlando Arena, the Magic’s previous home arena.
This game will be the 61st edition of the National Basketball Association All-Star Game.
From Feb. 23-26, the NBA would transform the Orange County Convention Center on International Drive into a hub for pre-game activities, and then on Friday, Feb. 24, activities shift to Amway. On Saturday, Feb. 25, the NBA is hosting All-Star Saturday Night.
Orlando is expecting this week of activities to generate up to $100 million in revenue and added economic activity.
“What a great way to showcase our community,” said Commissioner Robert F. Stuart. “It’s another way to show people why they should live, work and play in Orlando.”
Commissioner Daisy W. Lynum said the community should be focused on that welcome economic boost, and not on lingering questions about how to find tickets a month before the game.
“The NBA All-Star is going to generate jobs and opportunities,” Lynum said. “That’s more important than silly old reporters asking about tickets.”
Commissioner Samuel B. Ings reminded area residents that the NBA and Sprint are presenting the NBA All-Star Balloting, which allows sports fans to select their favorite players as starters for the 2012 NBA All-Star Game by voting on NBA.com and through mobile devices. The NBA All-Star ballot lists 120 players – 60 each from the Eastern and Western conferences – with 24 guards, 24 forwards, and 12 centers from each conference comprising the list.
“We need to get out there and cast our votes,” Ings said. He suggested they might want to consider a vote for Orlando Magic Center Dwight Howard, who has been the object of speculation that he might leave the Orlando Magic for another team.
“I had an opportunity to say to Dwight Howard, ‘Dwight, Orlando needs you,’ “ Ings said.
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