Can we please stop pretending the Orlando Magic are doing us a favor?




Our fearless leader, Erin Sullivan, posted earlier today about the city’s plan to sell its police headquarters and a parking garage to the Orlando Magic for $12.7 million. The Magic, in turn, will use this land to build some sort of $100 million entertainment megacomplex, which will of course go much better than the last time the city partnered with a selfless corporate benefactor on a Church Street revitalization thingy.

Erin sums this proposal quite nicely:

We’re about to cut the Magic a sweet deal on city-owned property that currently makes the city approximately $260,000 per year in parking fees, then we’re going to have to incur the cost of building a new police station because we sold the old one out from under ourselves, and in the meantime we’ll pay the Magic $100,000 per year in rent to stay in the current police station.

In other words, pretty much what we’ve come to expect from the current occupants of City Hall. But we’ll leave that for another day. Instead, I’d like to focus on this quote from Mark Schlueb’s scoop:

"The Magic could be investing about anywhere in the country, and they've made a conscious decision to invest $100 million in our community because this is their home," [Mayor Buddy] Dyer said. "If they weren't investing, this block wouldn't be developed for probably another decade. We're very thankful that they are willing to make such a substantial investment."

Thank you, sir, may I have another?

This Magic team—actually, team is the wrong word; it’s a business, a very profitable business owned by a billionaire and valued at $470 million, 14th highest in the league—is already the beneficiary of some $400 million dollars in corporate welfare (if you believe Rich Devos’ Golden Pleasure Dome™ did squat for the local economy, this week’s Soapboxer should disabuse you), and now they’re back at the trough and we’re supposed to be grateful they would deign locate their complex in our little shithole? Is that how this works?

The Magic are “community partners” like Willie Sutton was a bank manager. A partnership involves give and take. Instead, we give, they take, and then we give some more and thank them for being so kind as to accept our largesse.

I’m all for the Magic moving their HQ downtown from Maitland. After all we’ve done for them, it’s the least they could do. But we shouldn’t be selling them land on the cheap—here’s an especially telling line from the Sentinel: “The appraiser also was told to ignore the garage, police station and other structures on the property and estimate the land’s value as if it were vacant”—and kissing their ass while we’re at it.

Let’s cut the bullshit: This entertainment complex is designed to make the Magic a lot of money. If not, the Magic wouldn’t be spending twice what they invested in the Amway Center to build it. They’re not doing us any favors here. We shouldn’t pretend otherwise.

Jesus, Buddy, grow some self-respect.

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