A lot of great memories were made in the O-rena and that morning was the last chance to say goodbye to an old friend.
The Amway Arena, also known as the O-rena, imploded yesterday morning after 23 years of existence. The Amway Arena was most famously known as the home to the Orlando Magic up until two seasons ago but since then has sat mostly dormant awaiting its destruction to make way for a new “Creative Village” in its place. The early 7:30 am implosion time was a little tough to roll out of bed for but once I was down near the arena the place was abuzz. Quite a crowd had already gathered as I arrived so I quickly found my spot to take a picture and began setting up my tripod. As I prepared, I couldn’t help but listen to some of the conversations that went on around me.
“I saw the Dead here in ’94 tripping my face off and then saw my daughter graduate high school from here ten years later.”
“I remember when the All Star Game came here and Magic Johnson played after just announcing he had HIV. I had seats against the wall at the top with my Dad, dead last row, it seemed like the first row though.”
“Remember when we had Shaq? Our home games were the hottest ticket in the whole league.”
I had originally thought most everyone in attendance came simply for the spectacle of a building being decimated but I realized most of the older crowd was there to pay their respects. A lot of great memories were made in the O-rena and that morning was the last chance to say goodbye to an old friend. My short history in Orlando hasn’t afforded me as many opportunities to enjoy the arena but I did go to my fair share of Magic games over the years. I always appreciated the “In the Game” atmosphere the small and well laid out arena created. Even the worst seats really weren’t too far from the court and getting your voice heard only seemed to be limited by how daring you decided to be. While the new Amway Center is certainly a huge upgrade over the original, the same “In the Game” experience is only possible for those who can afford the closer, high dollar tickets. The new arena’s vastness and priority on luxury seating leaves most fans to be only spectators. Hearing the player’s shoes squeak on the court or getting your favorite (or least favorite) players attention by yelling is almost an impossibility unless you’ve shelled out hundreds of dollars on tickets. The plethora of distractions the amenity filled new arena offers can almost work as a disadvantage at times as it can take the crowd out of the game in the early quarters. So in tribute to a small, outdated, but cozy arena, I’ve included pictures of some of the “Hot Amway Nights” I’ve had there and a few pictures of its final demise.