SBJ/March 12-18, 2012/Forty Under 40

Forty Under 40



Photo by: FERNANDO MEDINA
Charles Freeman, the Orlando Magic‘s executive vice president of business development, is resting easier these days after the opening of Amway Center last season.

“We were on the hook for any cost overruns,” said Freeman, who led the day-to-day operations of the arena construction project. “That was enough to weigh on you.”

But Freeman delivered, and the team’s $380 million share of the $480 million arena came within 1 percent of budget, earning Freeman a sigh of relief and the satisfaction of playing a pivotal role in building the newest facility in the NBA.

Budget concerns aside, the project came with a host of challenges as the team looked to maximize revenue while offering amenities to fans sitting in the nosebleed seats as well as those sitting courtside. The design includes indoor and outdoor areas open to all fans.

“Now the focus is on filling the building every night,” Freeman said. “We want to keep things fresh, year after year.”

Today, Freeman is facing a different set of challenges in his role, which involves leading ticket sales and marketing for the franchise, which ranks sixth in total revenue among the 30 NBA teams.

But the suburban Chicago native is up to the task, given that he has worked in nearly every area of the team’s business since he began working for the Magic in 1996, when he was fresh out of Rollins College.

“Charlie has provided tremendous leadership to the Magic over the past year in helping the organization realize the best year in its history from a business standpoint,” said Magic CEO Alex Martins. “In addition to being the day-to-day lead on the development of the new Amway Center, Charlie has provided strategic leadership to the organization in our analytics programs, customer service and our sales approach. He has developed an outstanding track record to date and has the approach to develop a very successful and lengthy career in the sports industry.”


Age: 37
Title: Executive vice president, business development
TEAM: Orlando Magic
Education: B.A., Rollins College, 1996
Family: Wife, Pam; son, Charlie Jr. (8); daughter, Addison (5)
Career: Started as an intern with the Magic while in college
FIRST JOB: Market research analyst, Orlando Magic
Last vacation: Golf and flyfishing trip to Aspen, Colo.
what's on your ipod? Nickelback, Lifehouse, U2, Bryan Adams
Guilty pleasure: Starbucks
Best stress release: Running and spending time with my family
Pet peeve: Laziness
Fantasy job: Professional golfer
WHAT KEEPS YOU AWAKE AT NIGHT: Ticket yield and renewal rates
Business advice: Keep learning every day.

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