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  • Writer's pictureChris Green

Kia Center – Orlando Magic



Photos by Chris Green, Stadium Journey


Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 4.57

Kia Center 400 W Church St Orlando, FL 32801


Year Opened: 2010

Capacity: 18,500


 

Quietly Impressive in Orlando

Take an NBA team, plant it in a beautiful vibrant growing city, and build them a beautiful facility with modern touches that never seem to go out of style, and you have yourself Kia Center, home of the Orlando Magic. Chock-full of quality concessions, comfortable seating, great restaurants and bars nearby, and friendly patrons, you would be hard-pressed to find a venue as enjoyable and inviting for a game of professional basketball. While many may think of Orlando as a city meant for tourists, it is quietly becoming a central hub for sports.


Food & Beverage   5

The concessions at Kia Center are impressive. The home of the Magic combines standard stadium concessions and local favorites with known brands from around the country. Among the popular spots are PDQ Chicken ($15.99-$19.99 for chicken tenders, $15.99 for chicken sandwiches) and Pappa Johns ($10.99-$11.99 per personal pizza). Local favorites come in the form of 4 Rivers BBQ ($15.99 for BBQ Chicken Nachos, Pulled Pork Nachos, or Carved Turkey Sandwiches) and Gringos Locos Tacos ($12.99-$15.99 for nachos, $6.99 for tacos). Stadium favorites like popcorn ($6.99), jumbo pretzels ($4.99), hot dogs (9.99), and even Brazilian meat bowls and burritos ($14.99) are available. Drinks include soda ($6.49-$7.99) and beer ($11.99-$13.99). Smaller food vendor carts are also scattered around the arena, including coffee stands and Dippin’ Dots ice cream.



Perhaps the coolest thing about the concessions at Kia Center, though, is the Ultra Club bar, an outdoor location which overlooks the downtown skyline, while also providing a beautiful gathering space for some fresh air, good drinks, and TVs that show the action inside. Another great spot is the Big Storm Brewing location on the event level near the main entrance – this bar and restaurant is open from 11am to 7pm on weekends as well as during Kia Center events, and features its own entrance to the arena for fans with tickets.


Atmosphere   4

Kia Center is stunning; from the vibrant and colorful concourse lighting that extends to the main entrance lobby, to the unique arrangement of the court’s flooring – everything here is visually beautiful. The arena looks like it is a new facility, not one that has been open for over seven years. The acoustics are also great, making the crowd roars loud and noticeable.


Orlando Magic’s seats are routinely full when it comes to ticket sales, meaning you always have the feel of a big game. But perhaps the best thing is that Magic games feel like they are a family affair; there are young fans at every game, and the team works to engage with younger fans like few others. The family-friendly atmosphere penetrates everything you see and do at Kia Center, making it a draw for anyone looking to take in a night of professional basketball that everyone can enjoy.


Neighborhood   5

What can you say about downtown Orlando? Kia Center is steps away from Church Street, the hub of Orlando’s rebirth as a foodie and entertainment destination. The City of Orlando has become a sports-thirsty destination over the last few years; with the explosion in popularity of Orlando City SC and a renewed interest in the Orlando Magic, the City Beautiful loves sports.


The immediate area around Kia Center includes suburbs to the west and the downtown city center to the east. There are tons of hotels nearby, and since the arena sits next to I-4, getting to other resorts and hotels in the greater Orlando area is not hard to do either. Fans can easily stay at the Crowne Plaza Orlando-Downtown, Grand Bohemian Hotel Orlando, or the Embassy Suites by Hilton Orlando Downtown, and still walk to the arena with ease.


For local restaurants, AC Sky Bar is one of the most popular sports bars in the Church Street area. Fans also visit Aku Aku Tiki Bar, World of Beer, and Tin & Taco. And if you want to see the sights, Lake Eola Park is just a few blocks away; this park is an Orlando landmark that is also home to a weekly farmer’s market on Saturday mornings. Being in Orlando, you are also just a short drive from Walt Disney World, Sea World, and the Universal Studios theme parks.

 

Fans   4

The fans at Kia Center are loyal and known to pack the house, regardless of the Magic’s record or opponent. From the first game of the year to the final game of the season, an admirably full house can be found for matchups against all teams in the standings. Another one of the positives is the friendliness of the fans at Orlando Magic games; everyone is there to have fun, and that is reflected in the attitude of the fans.



The only downside may be Orlando’s hub as a tourist destination – while the team has marketed itself in some ways as a tourist attraction in and of itself, advertising with billboards that say “come see an NBA game in Orlando” make it seem more like a visiting show than a regular occurrence for loyal local fans. This approach, as well as Orlando’s natural tourist appeal, has made it a popular stop for visiting fans that can sometimes fill up a large part of the arena.

 

Access   5

How much easier can an arena be to get to? Driving on I-4 you pass within a few yards of Kia Center itself, so not finding the venue is quite arguably an impossibility. But if you do somehow get lost, signs all around downtown point the way to the facility, and both the South Street exit and the South Street Express Lanes exit drop you off right next to the arena. Also, when leaving there is an I-4 express lanes entrance on South Street on well.


Once you get to Kia Center the Geico Garage is your best option for parking, and the best part is that the garage connects to the arena through a sky bridge across the street. There are also numerous other parking options nearby in parking lots and garages in the area; the only downside of late is the continuing construction in and around the I-4 corridor throughout the greater Orlando area.

 

Return on Investment   5

Taking in an Orlando Magic game can be a great event, and while some seats are pricier depending on the seating level, seats in the upper deck start at just $25. With what you get for the price you pay, Kia Center gives lots of entertainment value and a quality, comfortable experience – an Orlando Magic game is a definite option for someone looking to see professional sports in Central Florida.

 

Extras   4

The Ozone bar located at the top of the upper level (behind one of the backboards) gives you a bird’s-eye view of the action, while also offering a great place to hang out and watch the action.


Fans can also enjoy the Orlando Magic Hall of Fame and other team memorabilia on the main concourse – these displays pay tribute to some of Orlando’s sporting heritage, community connections, and their best players of years past.


Finally, Kia Center has also partnered with Disney, meaning there are various displays and nods to the Orlando theme park throughout the facility, including large painted Mickey statues in the main lobby and an entire suite inside sponsored by the theme parks.


 

Final Thoughts

Kia Center remains one of the best basketball experiences around the league. The facility is stunning, clean, and always comfortable; the surrounding neighborhood means you have plenty to see and do before and after the game; and getting to the arena is a breeze. Kia Center should not be missed by any sports fan, be they casual visitors or hardcore sports enthusiasts.

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