Setting a New Standard for Premium Spaces
In just 875,000 square feet, Amway Center arguably packs more premium seating options than any other existing venue. In 2007, the Orlando Magic were deep in the process of discussing the needs of their evolving fan base and, shortly thereafter, came to the conclusion that their new facility in downtown Orlando should feature a little something for everyone.
And that it does! The $480 million arena features 732 club seats, 60 private suites, two bunker suites, 68 loge boxes and a wide variety of additional seating and social gathering spaces. Seated on an eight-acre site in the heart of downtown, it has set a new standard for premium and general seating options, as well as technology and fan amenities.
Shortly, ALSD conference attendees will experience Amway Center and get a behind-the-scenes look at the premium neighborhoods that Magic fans have to choose from. In the meantime, we’ll give you a brief overview of what you can expect to see as you tour the facility and an in-depth look at the design process.
THE DESIGN AND PLANNING PROCESS
As you’ll soon see, Amway Center is located adjacent to an elevated freeway (I-4) which challenges the sense of connection to downtown Orlando. The arena fronts Church Street, one of the most active streets in downtown Orlando. The design was intended to respond to adjacent context and act as an iconic front door to Orlando, welcoming visitors and residents alike. Inspired by the area’s climate, culture and the need to accommodate every fan, the building has seen great success since opening.
“We (the city, team and designers) were working with one goal in mind- create the best facility in North America that would function not only as the new home of the Orlando Magic, but also as a civic asset for downtown Orlando,” explained Brad Clark, Principal at Populous and the project designer. “In order to do this, we knew we had to think about each and every fan through every step of the design process and provide amenities and spaces that would engage and inspire the fan base.”
Amway Center and the Orlando Magic aren’t alone in this quest for more variety in seating neighborhoods within their arena. For the past two decades, finding the perfect mix of premium spaces has become both an art and a science. Teams work closely with market researchers and their architects to find a balance between what the facility can feasibly encompass, the evolving needs of spectators and the project budget.
Amway Center presented a unique opportunity to incorporate an impressive array of seating options and more successfully do what others had tried: create a venue that could be home to every fan.
THE PLANNING PROCESS
Challenged by Magic leadership, conversations focused on the goal of accommodating each and every fan with a wide variety of seating types and price points- both premium and general. While this wasn’t without complexities, the Magic and the design team from Populous were determined to provide offerings for existing fans with varying expectations, as well as projected fans, corporate customers and the next generation of loyal followers.
The greatest challenge lay in finding a way to communicate a cohesive brand identity in all spaces, while embracing the unique character of each distinct seating neighborhood. In addition to expansive general seating, the seating bowl features club seating, traditional suites, co-op suites, hospitality suites, bunker suites and loge boxes, in addition to public social gathering spaces. Because the facility was designed to be an anchor for downtown and a catalyst in the ongoing efforts to revitalize Orlando’s urban core, these social gathering spaces were key and important differentiators from other arenas in the country.
“There are spaces at Amway Center, including the dramatic rooftop ONE80 Club, that function year-round, whether an event is underway or not,” explains Clark. “We wanted the premium spaces and social gathering spaces to be destinations in themselves and draw people downtown to experience all the city has to offer- at Amway and beyond.”
CREATING AN IDEAL MIX
The seating bowl is the physical and emotional heart Seating of a venue – whether it be an 80,000 seat Olympic Stadium or a 2,000 seat collegiate arena. Thoughtful configuration of seating and the strategic mix of premium seating, specifically tailored to the market and audience, is essential to the continued operational and financial success of a venue.
Some of the most unique spaces in Amway Center combine innovative sponsor activation and well-executed design concepts that deliver a great fan experience and ideal mix of revenue-generating, welcoming spaces for each and every fan. These include:
- The Budweiser Baseline Bar and Food Court
The Budweiser Baseline Bar provides a common gathering place on the main concourse, accessible for all ticket holders, that encompasses one end of the seating bowl with a massive bar, high-quality concessions, high-top table seating, direct sightlines to the event and a wall of glass with exterior views of the city. The space has a neighborhood bar feeling, allowing friends and strangers alike to come together to root on the Magic or cheer for their favorite performer.
- Gentleman Jack’s Bar and Terrace
This 30,000 square foot bar and terrace is located at the front door Amway Center and serves as a manifestation of a traditional front porch. Overlooking Church Street, the space is one of the most active in the arena and many ticket holders gather in the bar during games to enjoy the climate and the atmosphere of the game. In addition to ample open air space, the bar and casual seating is sheltered by the tower above.
- O Zone
The O Zone provides a themed spectator experience for fans overlooking the seating bowl and adjacent to the O3 beverage bar. It’s one of the many social gathering spaces that allows fans to interact and engage outside of the seating bowl without losing sight of the event at hand.
- Stuff’s Magic Castle Kid Zone
Creating an enjoyable space for children was high on the priority list for the Magic. Stuff’s Magic Castle features interactive learning exhibits, games and activities, kid-oriented food and beverage and a small retail shop. Adjacent to the space is a teen interactive electronic gaming area, appealing to older kids in attendance. These spaces help to build the next generation of Magic fans and are further proof that there is a little something for everyone at Amway.
- Fan Experience Zones
Located off of the main concourse to the east and west are two themed areas. On the west, the Nutrilite Magic Fan Experience features electronic displays and exhibits highlighting the players, coaches and history of the Orlando Magic. On the east side, the On-Demand Orlando Info Garden offers information about the city of Orlando, its history and attractions through interactive displays.
- ONE80 Grey Goose Lounge
The spectacular ONE80 Grey Goose Lounge is perched atop the arena’s electronic tower and operates on non-event days. The space offers a mix of indoor and outdoor spaces with unmatched views of the Orlando skyline. The club has played an important role in revitalizing Church Street and turning Amway Center into an active, vibrant part of the community year-round.
- Southwest Airlines Club
The Southwest Airlines Club is a fully engaging sponsored space and has been specifically designed with a sponsor in mind. The club is uniquely located within the seating bowl and the design includes comfortable seating, a bar and even overhead storage reminiscent of an actual airplane. In addition, the space features a completely branded interior with Southwest Airline’s logo and colors throughout. It’s a prime example of an innovative sponsorship between a partner and team. A similar club space dedicated to Kia Motors is similarly located within the seating bowl.
A MEMORABLE FAN EXPERIENCE
While premium seating and the spaces above play an important role in how a fan enjoys a facility, creating a cohesive and memorable fan experience from start to finish encompasses much more than that- something that Amway Center excels at.
“The venue provides finished spaces throughout,” says Clark. “Unlike most arenas that feature exposed concrete and steel, every portion of Amway Center is finished. Taking that to another level, premium spaces feature high-end hospitality-level interiors, with the Magic opting for rich and elegant finishes and bold, branded graphics. ”
Each and every detail was accounted for, from a color-coded wayfinding system to an art collection curated by California-based Sports and the Arts. The arena features more than 340 works of art including 200 museum-quality photographs, a majority of which was contributed by artists based in Central Florida.
In addition, fans are able to be part of one of the most interconnected, technologically advanced stadium experiences in the country at Amway Center. The ownership group and city focused on enhancing the connectivity for fans, including sponsorship platforms using the latest in technology and providing crystal clear televisions, scoreboards and videoboards. The center hung, 40-ton scoreboard is the largest in the NBA, measuring at 42’H x 41’W x 41’D. The arena features 1,270 HD televisions distributed throughout and an iconic, 180-foot illuminated LED tower on the front of the building that allows for sponsorship, messaging and special effects. Finally, Wi-Fi monitors are provided throughout the building to ensure fans have constant internet access via their hand-held devices.
“Technology played an integral role in the design process from start to finish. We had to consider how the expectations of modern fans have evolved and how we could provide technology and experiences that would be worth leaving the house for. In addition, planning for the changing expectations of current fans and working to provide future fans with a technologically-advanced experience,” says Clark. “We knew that Wi-Fi access, so fans can check stats and scores during the game, coupled with the highest resolution televisions and video boards available…and a lot of them…would enhance the in-stadium experience substantially.”
LOOKING TO THE FUTURE
The success has been immediate. Since opening in 2010, the space has helped double the revenue grossed per fan per game, raising it to $24 on average. In addition, the team generated more than $30 million in additional revenue in the first year from ticket sales, luxury boxes, increased sponsorship opportunities and improved concessions. While more varied seating options and diversified amenities are certainly a trend that impacts the fan experience, it’s clear that they also impact a team’s bottom line.
Amway Center has undoubtedly set a new standard for the fan experience and become a facility that others are benchmarked against. By studying their current and projected fan base carefully and integrating the latest in technology and fan amenities, it’s easy to understand why David Stern, Commissioner of the NBA, has said “there is nothing better than this facility in the world.” From the unmatched array of premium and general seating options to the impressive artwork and attention to detail, Amway Center is a facility that operators, architects and team owners can learn from.
We look forward to you experiencing the Amway Center’s dynamic offerings first-hand and touring one of the nation’s premier arenas during ALSD’s 2013 annual conference.
AMWAY CENTER AT A GLANCE
- eight total levels
- 8.75 acre site
- $480 million project cost
- Seats 20,000
- Premium seating includes:
- 68 Loge Boxes
- 732 Club Seats
- 14 MVP Tables
- two bunker suites with 40-person capacity
- 32 private suites
- six hospitality suites
- 28 private, club level suites
- two legends suites
- four party suites