This is the 8th time I have delivered the State of Downtown Address. Usually, we hold this event in a slightly smaller setting. But, for this special day, we super-sized it! I want to thank the Downtown Orlando Partnership for helping us put on today’s event!
I wake up every day proud and excited to serve as
Mayor of the great City of Orlando. I must admit, today I am a little
more excited than usual. This is an extraordinary day for the City of
Orlando. This is an extraordinary day for Central Florida. This is an
extraordinary day for everyone who believes in the power of partnership
and has worked together to move our community forward.
When we look at the history of any City there are a handful of milestones that define them. Here in Orlando some of our defining moments have been the opening of Walt Disney World, the establishment of UCF and the founding of the Orlando Magic. I believe that when we look back at this moment 20 or 30 years from now we will view the Amway Center opening as another significant milestone. One that changed Orlando for the better, forever.
We are going to look at the opening of the Amway Center, all its far-reaching impacts and the historic collaboration that made it possible, as another bold step toward fulfilling our destiny as the next great American City!
The fact that we are here today, celebrating, is
remarkable. Central Floridians have talked about the need for new sports
and cultural amenities for our residents since the 90’s.
That changed in 2004, when we rallied behind an idea. We knew our hometown was a special place to live, work, learn and raise a family. But we also knew we could do more. Our residents deserved the kind of world-class venues that other cities had access to. So, Central Florida came together to support the building of the Amway Center. We didn’t stop there. We created a shared vision for three Community Venues. And, a vision for how those venues could help create jobs… spur downtown revitalization and be a catalyst for other major advances. I emphasize the term “shared vision.”
We simply would not be here but for the partnership of so many people and so many different sectors of our community. I share the stage with my partner and friend, Orange County Mayor Richard Crotty. Mayor Crotty, I cannot thank you enough for your commitment to collaboration between our two governments. I also want to thank each member of the Orange County Board of Commissioners who supported this project. My partners in City government are here, the Orlando City Commissioners who supported the project. Commissioners, we could not have done this without you. Would each of you and all our elected officials please stand and be recognized.
This day would not have been possible without the
support and leadership of our tourism industry
Leaders in our hospitality industry from the Orlando CVB, the Central Florida Hotel and Lodging Association and the Orange County Tourist Development Council were instrumental in securing tourist tax dollars to help fund these venues. I am also proud to share the stage with Alex Martins and Bob Vander Weide of the Orlando Magic. There is no NBA franchise more committed to its community than the Orlando Magic. Bob and Alex, the Magic show this commitment every day… both on and off the court. I also want to thank our civic, business and faith-based organizations for their critical role in getting us here.
The Central Florida Partnership and the Metro Orlando EDC who spearheaded “Project Hometown.” Of course, our Downtown Development Board. All of our local small businesses that helped articulate what this facility means in terms of economic development. Our entire venues team, including the Dr. Phillips Center, Florida Citrus Sports and the Central Florida Sports Commission. And… our Public Venues Oversight Committee for making sure the Amway Center was built on schedule with the highest quality workmanship. I say… Thank you.
Another partnership we are celebrating today is the model we used for the design and construction of the Amway Center. The Magic acted as the developer and managed construction and took on the burden of any cost overruns. This facility would not be here without their leadership and the thousands of local workers employed by contractors and subcontractors on the project. I cannot thank everyone by name.
So let me recognize the development team, the design team, the construction team, and everyone at the Orlando Magic. I also want to recognize the incredible job that was done by every department in the City of Orlando. City employees not only worked on the building, but on every aspect of how the Amway Center blends into downtown Orlando.
City family members, thank you for your hard work on this project and the work you do every day to serve our residents. Would all our City staff, everyone involved with the development, design and construction, and the Magic please stand up and be recognized.
I want to offer a special thank you to our residents; the people who proudly call Orlando and Central Florida home. You stepped up and said in one powerful voice, we must invest in our future. Today we celebrate the benefit of that investment. Today, we have the most technologically-advanced, most environmentally-friendly sports and entertainment venue in America! That’s something to Celebrate!!
My wife Karen is here today, as well as my mother Nancy. I want to thank them and our two sons for their love and support. There are so many more people I would like to thank individually. In fact, if we put a person in each of these seats who deserved a thank-you, we would easily run out of room! So let me just say to everyone who worked to make this day possible, thank you!
As we saw in the video, securing funding for construction of the Amway Center was just the beginning of this story. No one could have predicted the economic catastrophe that struck our nation beginning in 2008, at about the same time we broke ground on this building. Yet, in the face of tough times, I have been amazed at the strength of our City.
The best part of being Mayor is listening to
residents. Every day I hear stories about the negative effects of this
recession. I also hear about pride and determination, a belief that if
we can hang on, if we can keep going despite these economic challenges,
better days are ahead.
When we planned the Amway Center we also created “The Blueprint,” to ensure that our residents benefited from its construction in the form of jobs and career training. We had no idea just how important the Blueprint would become. Through this effort more than 1400 Central Floridians have found jobs. 430 are Parramore Residents. More than 120 local firms participated in the project. 170 firms owned by women and minorities performed 94 million dollars worth of work on the building. Overall, the Amway Center achieved one of the largest minority and women owned business participation rates of any project in Florida’s history.
For companies struggling in a crippling recession,
work on the Amway Center literally saved their business and kept people
working. In this way, the Amway Center has become a critical part of our
economic recovery. Nearly 25-hundred people built the Amway Center. As
we open this building I want to thank everyone involved in the Blueprint
and all the men and women who helped build the Amway Center. I want to
thank Orlando City Commissioner Daisy Lynum for her leadership in the
Blueprint effort. This building wasn’t just made to be the home of
The Amway Center has given us another kind of Blueprint. When our community created the shared vision for this building… we also established a unique formula for collaboration and partnership. This game plan for enhanced partnership wasn’t a one-time deal. Over the last few years we have been able to use this model to move our community forward in many different ways. Despite the recession, collaboration has allowed us to secure a string of “game changing” projects not found anywhere else in the United States.
I spoke earlier this summer before hundreds of America’s Mayors. I was asked to talk about our rail projects and how Orlando was able to get these done. I was proud to answer. Our success with rail and every major accomplishment we’ve experienced is because of partnership. Governments working together. Civic entities, the business community and residents becoming critical stakeholders. Sharing the credit. Sharing the challenges. It sounds so simple. But, the new spirit of collaboration that is fueling our City does not exist everywhere else. Our model for partnership is not business as usual. It’s not government as usual. Now, other cities are learning from us how they can better harness the power of partnership. In this way, the legacy of the Amway Center will have impacts far beyond these walls and well beyond today.
I believe that when we look back 30 years from now,
the model for partnership that paved the way for this building will be
as meaningful as the facility itself. The lasting benefits of our
partnership are even more important when you look at how all our
projects are interconnected. Nothing illustrates this point better than
the words of Sanford Burnham Institute President Dr. John Reed.
We’ve been hearing all morning about the incredible fan amenities inside this building. We know about the environmental benefits. We are seeing the technology in action right now. Some out there might say, “I’m not going to a concert or ballgame, so what’s in it for me?” Even if you never step foot inside the Amway Center this building is going to have a positive impact on your community and on your Downtown. The Amway Center is going to play a key role in the ongoing revitalization of Central Florida’s urban core.
Yes, the recession has slowed progress Downtown, but
signs of recovery are everywhere.
Since January, 22 new retail establishments have opened Downtown. In the next 90 days, 15 more will open, many designed to serve Amway Center visitors. Every day more people are choosing to live, work and play in our Downtown. The Amway Center is a one-of-a-kind destination which will draw visitors from throughout Central Florida and even from Tampa, Jacksonville and south Florida. We are rolling out the line-up of shows and sporting events for the Amway Center’s inaugural year. Already, we are securing artists who would not likely have performed in our old building, like Lady Gaga. This morning, I am excited to announce that BON JOVI will play two dates this spring! New artists mean new visitors to Downtown Orlando. More importantly, these high end shows mean our residents will no longer have to leave town to see these acts. That means our money is spent in our community.
In closing, I want everyone to know that today is much
more than an opening celebration.
With that life, a new chapter for Downtown Orlando begins. With that life, the Amway Center becomes an icon of civic pride and identity. With that life, the Amway Center becomes a vehicle to create shared memories with friends and loved ones.
Orlando, Let’s start making those memories right now! We need your help to officially bring this building to life. Get on your feet. Get ready. You are about to witness the Amway Center being powered-up publicly for the very first time. Remember this moment. This will be the first of many great moments inside this building.
In the Amway Center only three words matter. Look at the screen above us. I want everyone to say these three words with me.
I. WAS. THERE!