NAACP Protests Outside Orlando Magic Game

Jeff Kunerth, Orlando Sentinel Staff Writer, April 29, 2009

About two dozen members of the local NAACP picketed outside Amway Arena on Tuesday night, protesting the lack of construction jobs for Parramore residents at the events center, as thousands of fans streamed into the arena to see the Orlando Magic play the Philadelphia 76ers.

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The NAACP says the team and the city have failed to live up to promises to make a “significant effort” to hire black-owned firms and residents of the adjacent Parramore neighborhood in building the $480 million events center, the Magic’s new home under construction a few blocks from Amway Arena.

Only a small number of jobs on the construction site have gone to black workers in a neighborhood that is 95 percent black, Bracy said.

“Construction began in July 2008, and from that time to now they have deliberately not played fair,” Bracy said. “They have not done what is right.”

Orlando officials and the Magic say they have exceeded the goal of having minority-owned businesses receive 24 percent of events-center contracts, as called for in an agreement between the city and the team.

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So far, 34.6 percent of the contracts–worth $77.8 million–have gone to minority businesses, Glass [Joel Glass, spokesman for the Magic] said.

The latest figures, he said, show that 46 African-American businesses have been awarded contracts, compared with 28 Hispanic-owned businesses, 17 Asian businesses and 37 women-owned businesses. Since Feb. 13, he said, 25 workers have been hired by the city–24 of them from predominantly black neighborhoods in west Orlando.

The NAACP counters that while there may be more black firms, the Hispanic-owned construction companies received 18 percent of the contracts versus 8 percent for black businesses.

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The Orlando Magic released information on Monday about minority participation in the construction of the Orlando Events Center. The city has outlined a blueprint for construction where 24 percent of all contracts would be awarded to minority-owned and women-owned businesses.

To date, the city reports almost 35 percent minority contracts have been issued to several companies, including some in neighboring Parramore, equaling around $78 million.

More than 120 minority and women firms are under contract (46 African-American owned, 28 Hispanic- American owned, 17 Asian-American owned, 37 women-owned). Since February 13, twenty-five workers have been hired via the City workforce program.

Construction is on schedule for the facilty, which will ultimately house the Orlando Magic and the Orlando Predators. It also will compete to host major national events, concerts and family shows.

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