"WOW! This place is something else," I thought.
As soon as I parked in the parking garage (right off the exit ramp), there was an enclosed walkway that took us right into the arena. It could have been storming outside, and it wouldn't have mattered.
At the old arena, unless you were a Magic employee, you were going to get wet.
When I got into the arena, the concourse level looked like an airport. No more walking elbow-to-elbow, dodging other people trying to get to the bathroom or the concession stands. In fact, no more lines at the bathroom either. Just walk right in and right up to the stall. And clean? You could eat off the floors.
Everywhere you went, there were Magic employees greeting you and thanking you for coming. And there were plenty of concessions to choose from. You want Mexican? They have it. Pizza? They have that, too. Burgers and dogs? You betcha. Probably have plenty of the real expensive stuff, too, but I don't bother with that.
They have life-size statues of the Magic starting five for photo ops. Even a life-size replica of Dwight Howard doing his famous Slam Dunk Contest-winning "Superman Dunk" adorns the wall.
There are carnival-style basketball games and climbing apparatuses for the kids.
Then you go into the arena and it's huge. It's three levels, which is one more than the old arena. If you have third-level seats, the court is pretty far away. The mid-level has luxury boxes behind the seating. The sideline seats all have tables in front of them, each with its own TV screen.
The seats themselves are bigger, too. No more sitting in the lap of those next to you. At one point both of my kids were sitting in the seat with me. I asked them, "Why did I pay for four tickets if we are all going to use one seat?"
Oh, by the way, there was a basketball game going on, too. The Magic broke the franchise record for points in a first half when they led 78-45. Although you would never know it from the crowd. Most of them were walking around the concourse level.
The old Orlando Arena was loud. At times, you couldn't have heard the person next to you if you were screaming at each other. It was about basketball. You went to the game to watch the Magic and get loud. Now I fear that people are going to the game to visit the arena.
It's almost like going to Disney World.
The Magic need the home crowd if they are going to compete against Miami, Boston, Atlanta, etc. to win a championship. This place is almost like watching in your own living room. Do most of us scream and yell at the TV? Probably not. We sit there with our feet propped up and a cold beer on a coaster on the end table next to us, nodding off sometime in the second quarter, waking up in the third.
The Magic cannot afford for people at the arena to do the same. Hopefully, the newness will wear off soon and people will get back to what they came for.
That is, cheering on the Magic.