National Endowment for the NBA

High school brings back scary memories, doesn’t it? It is hard to be a young gay man or woman navigating through the waters of public education. Grades 9 thru 12 are fraught with peer pressure and usually, pretending to be things you are not. Creative kids in the arts have it even worse. The athletic kids get all the attention, and all the money. They have manifest destiny on their side. They feel entitled. This is a scenario that follows us throughout our lives.

As proved by The Orlando Magic. They want a new arena. Our current facility, only eleven years old, is no longer good enough for them. The price tag is currently $250,000,000.00 and given our community history

with the new courthouse, it is sure to go higher due to missed deadlines and cost overruns. Let’s, just for the fun of it, say the construction would go 4% over estimates. That is a conservative guess. So, our new arena would cost $260,000,000.00. The Magic organization is willing to contribute $10,000,000.00, or, our Magic 4%!

Say you were out on a date and the bill was $100.00. You offer the restaurant $4.00 and expect a big smile from the manager. Realistic? I don’t think so. You buy a new car that carries a price tag of $20,000.00. Could you get it for $800.00? Not unless you lucked out and got a sixty-something , overweight, balding, closet case for a salesman and you were willing to break several laws in the backseat.

But, back to The Magic, Orlando’s NBA franchise. Hopefully without realizing it, they are continuing a pattern that we all grew up under the oppression of. These overgrown boys, running up and down the court in their long shorts, think that we should be willing to pay for basking in the reflection of their glory – a glory that has consistently faded over the past few years according to their profit margin. Why should we spend tax revenue on an arena for a business that is losing money? Why should education and roads and parks and public services suffer to build a facility in which only the giants are going to be allowed to play?

It also continues the pattern of leaving the arts out in the cold. I recently directed a play called MURDER IS A DRAG by John Graham, starring Louis Gravance, Tom Vazzana, Dennis Marsico, David Kelley and the author. Shame on you if you missed it. It was exceptional and people will be talking about it for years to come. The total price tag for this professional theatre production was about $6,000.00 all of which was put up by those involved. The play sold out every performance and a profit, entirely self-funded, was made.

Had we operated under the blatant arrogance of The Orlando Magic, we could have financed 41,666 productions and entertained audiences for 208,333 weeks or 4006 years. (You might want to check my math. I was a Drama Major.) Would that we assembled liberals had lived up to our public spending reputation. We could have asked for tax monies raised from the tourist trade and all quit our jobs at Disney.

The Orlando Magic, The Solar Bears, The Rage – they are all luxuries. We do not need them. The lifeblood of this community is theme parks and the service industry. These teams are just like any other business. They deserve to succeed or fail by virtue of their own hard work.

Perhaps a merger is required for The Orlando Magic to get what they claim they so desperately need. Sounds business logic says they need a sponsor from the corporate sector. It is easy to picture. The Magic could play their games at Sea World and get a new arena courtesy of Anhauser-Busch. They could build a court over the Shamu tank and get bigger crowds if the tourists were willing to stay after the killer whale’s performances.

Or, better yet, finally bridge the gap between the creative/gay kids and the jocks. The Orlando Magic should hire Dennis Rodman, the cross dressing legend of the NBA and get the Parliament House to sponsor the team. Games could be held in the courtyard and bored spectators could, when the Magic inevitably begin losing, play balcony bingo. Intermission would find the fans able to buy beer and Ecstasy in one convenient stop. After game entertainment could include a quick drag show and a dance mix or two.

In short, it is time for The Orlando Magic to start working with this community or make good on their threat to leave it. We have been bullied long enough. Don’t ask us to pay for the honor.

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