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One of Orlando’s landmark buildings is no more. Demolition crews imploded the old Amway Arena at 7.30am this morning with a series of blasts that deliberately left standing four corners of the structure that will be removed later. Sirens warned the crowd of the event about to happen and a huge plume of dust rose from the building moments after the first explosion. The dust was expected to be in the air for around an hour afterwards but the mornings light winds quickly dispersed it.
The work to remove the old Amway Arena actually started weeks ago, with heavy equipment and construction crews gutting the building and preparing it for demolition. At 4 a.m. today about 20 explosive demolition experts, firefighters and members of the city’s bomb squad did a detailed sweep of the building.
“We did a fine comb to make sure there was nobody in the building, no dogs, no one,” said Rich Zahn, CEO of ZMG Construction, the company overseeing construction.
At 6 a.m., a crew began installing blasting caps that trigger the explosions once the switch is thrown.
“That’s three to four highly trained people, because at that point the building is hot,” Zahn said.
520 pounds of dynamite, 80 pounds of shaped charges and 20 pounds of detonating cord were used in the concrete columns that supported the upper bowl and the concourse was also drilled and filled with dynamite. Shaped charges were inserted at key points through the steel trusses that held up the roof.
The building originally opened in 1989 at a cost of $102 million and was named the Orlando Arena. It was called the finest of its kind in the nation and it showed the people at the NBA that Orlando was serious about getting an expansion team. Since then it has been the home of the Orlando Magic, the Orlando Predators (arena football team) and for a short time, the Solar Bears ice hockey team. Further, many concerts, circuses and family events were held there, and thousands of high-school graduates received their diplomas there.
So the end of an era and a new one beckons as work on the new Creative Village, a business and housing development, begins.