A new franchise on the block, the Orlando Magic were founded in 1989 by Pat Williams and Jimmy Hewitt. Pat is an Army veteran who served in front office roles for the Philadelphia Phillies, Philadelphia 76ers, Chicago Bulls, and Atlanta Hawks. Jimmy Hewitt was a businessman and had an affinity for sports. The two of them met in 1984 and after hearing that the NBA was thinking about expanding they figured Florida would be a destination. Hewitt took it upon himself to make sure that Orlando was one of those locations and pitched the idea to then commissioner of the NBA, David Stern. They chose Orlando because it was a growing city and there was potential.
One of the final four expansion teams
When the NBA expanded Orlando was one of four teams that was added. With the expansion the Magic became the first major professional sports franchise in the Orlando area.
When selecting a name for the team the Orlando Sentinel did a contest and received 4,296 entries. Surprisingly, one of the most popular names for the team amongst fans was the Challengers. The name spawned from the space shuttle that crashed in 1986. The team narrowed their selections to 4 names: Heat, Juice, Magic, and Tropics. Ultimately, the team officials settled on the Magic, a nod to tourist attraction Disney World.
The team was originally owned by Pat Williams and Jimmy Hewitt until 1991 when Richard DeVos bought the team from them for $85 million.
Investing and being involved in our future
The Magic are very involved in the community. The team has three main focuses in the community: hunger, wellness and education, and health. They do their best to donate both gifts and money to non-profit organizations, provide opportunities for at-risk youth, and honor students who do well in the classroom. The Magic packed 30,000 meals for disaster relief and also funded distribution of meals to families in need through the Fed 40 program. They developed the Hoops for Hunger program to combat the hunger issue in the Central Florida area. They also work in connection with other programs to feed the homeless. Some of the team's other efforts include Habitat for Humanity, where they help someone build their home and cover the expenses. A lot of their efforts are directed towards the youth. They have camps and leagues geared toward helping kids get better at basketball, and kids can receive a scholarship that will allow them to attend free of cost. Probably one of their biggest contributions to the community is their work with OCPS. They have done events to encourage the youth to improve their reading abilities.
Oft jersey-less 6th man
Any sports team knows that their fans are one of their biggest components. When it comes to the NBA the Orlando Magic have some of the most loyal fans. Magic fans have had their dip in attendance but have come back and attendance has risen again. In a survey done by Adam McCann of WalletHub, the Magic were tied for first in having the most engaged NBA fans. They also ranked 17th in best cities for basketball fans in the country and 12th in the NBA market out of 30 teams. Average attendance for a game in the 2017-18 season was 17,915 fans which is approximately 95% of the arena’s capacity. The two highest totals in terms of attendance were 1996 and 2011, both years following the Magic making it to the NBA finals. From the 2013-14 season to the 2017-18 season the Orlando Magic boasted their highest average attendance (17,753) over a five-year span in franchise history. Along with the average attendance they also reported 14 sellouts and four of the six highest largest crowds in Amway Center.