Almost everyone except for the Sentinel's editorial board guffawed when Orlando Magic owner Rich Devos demanded $121 million in tourist taxes to build himself a new arena for his 12-year-old franchise, suggesting that because the T.D. Waterhouse Centre didn't have enough luxury amenities, the Magic were losing $10 million a year.
Throughout, Devos warned that if the city -- from which he wanted $50 million -- and Orange County didn't cooperate, he'd move the team. Big deal, replied the community consensus. Then word spread that voters in Charlotte, N.C., had nixed a similar new-arena proposal for the Hornets, though the Magic downplayed the significance of that report.
Devos has now backed off, after the county concluded there's not enough tourism money to build another arena, even if the county wanted to. Devos' RDV Sports immediately began negotiating for a $100 million, publicly financed renovation.
If the county renovates the arena, the Magic probably will agree to stay for another 10 years, after which the debate probably will heat up again. By then, Magic Vice President Cari Coats suggested to a reporter this week, perhaps more tourist taxes will be available. And maybe the Magic will have done something to make Orlando actually give a damn.
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