Back in January, I was lucky enough to see the NBA at London’s O2 when the Orlando Magic took on the Toronto Raptors.
It was a fast-paced, thrilling spectacle, and a real privilege to see it close to home. So it was good to hear last week from Chris D’Orso, senior vice-president, sales and operations for Orlando Magic, that the basketball team is ramping up its efforts to help the UK trade sell more tickets during the season, which runs from October to April.
He was in London, Birmingham and Dublin to meet with trade partners such as Attraction World and DoSomethingDifferent.com, which will have tickets on sale by the end of September.
“We’re aiming to educate the trade,” he said. “These are not just match tickets – it’s more of a theme park experience.”
He highlighted the Fan Fest that takes place outside the stadium before every game, the kids’ play area, and the chance to shoot hoops on the court after Sunday matches.
The 18,846-capacity Amway Center has been the home of the Magic team since 2010. It boasts the biggest scoreboard in the NBA and a rooftop bar, 180, overlooking downtown Orlando and open until 2am.
A second bar, ‘Ronas and ‘Ritas, has a tropical theme and there’s an all-inclusive restaurant, Jernigan’s, where two sittings are available, one 90 minutes before the game and the other at the start.
Children in tour groups can be given the opportunity to stand in front of the players for the national anthem, and D’Orso says there are courtside seats available: “Not many venues allow you to sit in the front row.”
There’s a range of premium seating to upgrade the experience, such as private suites and loge boxes, which are closer to the action, while still offering privileges. Booking a seat in the first six rows gives access to Fields Ultimate Lounge, with all-inclusive food and beverages.
D’Orso recommends this as the best opportunity to get close to the team, as it’s right by the Magic locker room. “You can high five the team as they run by,” he says.
Wherever clients choose to sit, he assures me that “there isn’t a bad seat in the house” and a family of four can easily see a less popular game for $80.
“The UK is a mature market for Orlando, with plenty of repeat visitors. They know to pre-book their theme park tickets and we want to get them in the same mindset for NBA if they want that classic all-American sports experience.”