[Orlando, FL] On Saturday, Feb. 18, the hottest action sports radio show in the country was talking up the NBA All-Star festivities with none other than Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer, who stopped by to talk about the big game and the impact that it was having on the city.
They also talked about what’s happening in and around The City Beautiful, including: recycling, Major League Soccer’s interest in Orlando, SunRail, the Performing Arts Center, Citrus Bowl renovations, how he ended up being the Mayor of Orlando and the whereabouts of the most famous wakeboard in Orlando history.
Then there’s the Amway Center, the official “Ambassador of Love” for the City of Orlando, the record tourism numbers from 2011 and what kind of car he drives.
Mayor Dyer even clued the crew and the show’s devoted listeners in on his son’s competitive action-sports past, and if he ever tried wakeboarding himself. We also found out about a certain road in Osceola County that he shares a name with (and why).
Yes, all of that and more, in 30 minutes (mostly full transcript below).
Broadcasting out of Orlando on ESPN 1080 AM “The Team” each Saturdays from noon until 1 p.m. and simulcast on the web in both audio-only and full video formats (via uStream), The Kevin Sutton Show brings listeners in-the-know of the goings-on in the world of actions sports like wakeboarding, wake skating, BMX, motorcross, surfing – you name it.
Top-ranked athletes as well as up-and-coming talents stop by the studio or call in to talk about their respective sports and chat with the gang about their lives and whatever is the hot topic of the day.
Hosted by comedian, entertainer and former semi-pro wakeboarder Kevin Sutton, The Kevin Sutton Show is a lively mix of talk, information and comedy, all centered around action sports. Kevin Sutton is joined in the studio by his merry band of misfits, otherwise known as “The Crew” (Mayra, Chris, “Metro” Joe Durkin, Shane and Faithy Fun Time).
Host Kevin Sutton checks out the Keep Orlando beautiful van
Mayor Buddy Dyer’s extended visit to the show was to help get Orlando – and the world, for that matter – geared-up for NBA All-Star week.
“We’ll have events all over the city, so it’s really an exciting time. We’re probably going to have 60,000 people visiting our city.”
Dyer pointed out that the NBA All-Star Game is shown in 215 different countries – you can’t buy that kind of publicity.
For Mayor Dyer, the week-deep All-Star events schedule had already started earlier that morning.
“Today we had a recycling event where people could bring their electronics and recycle them and you got free tickets to the NBA Jam Session … which … starts on Wednesday,” the event also featured former Orlando Magic great Bo Outlaw.
Kevin and Mayra even participated in the recycling by tossing in some old cell phones and earning a pair of tickets. They are planning to head out to the Jam Session on Friday (say hello).
“I’m going to look around and see if I can find some more phones,” said Kevin, the reality of the free tickets just hitting him.
Unlike Kevin, the mayor stayed on point (that what makes him the mayor).
“Orlando has become one of the more sustainable cities in terms of our environmental practices … we like to promote recycling, reuse.”
That got Kevin talking about how Orlando recycles. He doesn’t like it because of all the sorting – it takes too much time. He likes what they have out in California, where everything is sorted by those who collect it.
Mayra and Faithy Fun Time at the NBA recycling event
“We are moving toward single source recycling,” offered Dyer. But he wasn’t finished.
“Where the old arena is, we’re going to demolish that, but we’re going to do that in a green sustainable way as well, where we recycle all the materials. We’ll take all of the metal out, recycle that, and use the money to fund the Nap Ford Charter School,” said Dyer.
“Then we will compact the arena, bring it down, and the floor of the old arena is actually about 10 feet below grade,” said the mayor, obviously well-versed on the subject. “So, we’ll pulverize it, and it will be in little concrete balls and we’ll reuse it for the surfaces of the streets that will be developed in that area.”
Normally, Kevin would have jumped right on that concrete balls thing, but he is talking to the mayor after all.
And speaking of political office, how did Buddy Dyer end up being the Mayor of Orlando?
“I was in the State Senate for 10 years, I was the Democratic leader for three of those 10 years. And then I ran for Attorney General and was not successful,” admits Dyer.
“And it was the best thing that ever happened to me because the former [Mayor of Orlando] was appointed to be Secretary of State and a lot of people thought I’d make a good mayor. I’d never really thought about doing that before. They convinced me to run back in 2003 and it has been the best opportunity that I’ve ever had because we have a remarkable city,” says the seemingly happiest guy in town.
“I think we are one of those cities that really embraces diversity, and it is one of our great strengths. I just think we are positioned to be the dominate region, dominate city in the country moving into this century,” added Dyer.
And it was at this point that Kevin and Mayra pointed out that Mayor Dyer knows action sports pretty well for an elected official type – his son Trey Dyer was a touring competitor.
“He was a wakeboarder and then a wake skater,” said Mayor Dyer. “I’m a boat driver … I don’t like getting behind the boat, I like being the one behind the wheel of the boat.”
Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer joins the crew
But did Dyer ever try wakeboarding himself?
“I’ve tried it a couple of times,” said Dyer.
But he didn’t inhale … boat fumes, that is.
“I can get up … I’m not so good. … No flips for me,” he admitted.
Mayor Dyer pointed out that a former Orlando Fire Chief’s niece is wakeboard sensation Dallas Friday. Orlando is definitely a wakeboard town.
Then talk turned to the most famous jump in Orlando, you know, the one which saw pro wake rider J.D. Webb hurl himself and his wakeboard over the Lake Eola Fountain for a television show called Stunt Junkies. Dyer remembers it well – every time he looks up from his desk.
“I’ve got that wakeboard in my office,” revealed Dyer.
Kevin immediately made plans to steal it, asking the mayor for the code to get in.
Then Mayra wisely changed the subject and asked mayor Dyer what was next for Orlando.
“We had a good year in 2011, we broke ground on the Performing Arts Center, and that will be complete in May of 2014,” he said. Last month, we broke ground on SunRail, our new commuter rail system, that will also been done in Spring of 2014.”
“Speaking of the fountain, we got the fountain remodeled … it has a music system now. We have a jazz show every night at 8 o’clock and 9:30 [p.m.] … the lights and the music all dance and play together,” said Dyer.
Kevin then interrupted the mayor to play a famous movie trailer that he felt best depicted Dyer’s vision for Orlando. A voice whispered “If you build it we will come,” from the Kevin Costner film Field of Dreams.
He did build Amway Center, and the NBA came. That was the point. Moving on.
(L-R) Joe, Mayor Buddy Dyer, Chris
And that brought the gang back to talking about the new Amway Center, which was led by Kevin’s assertion that the old arena “stank” and smelled “like 160,000-year-old funky feets,” or something to that inappropriate effect.
“I wouldn’t go that far, but we definitely needed a new building,” said Dyer, ever the politician.
That got Dyer off talking about the city’s new pride and joy, the current envy of arena-going America.
“When we opened [the new Amway Center] the [NBA] commissioner was here, and he said ‘I’ve been in all of the buildings around the country, around the world, and this one is the very best.’ What’s really great about it is that the fan amenities are available to everybody,” said Dyer.
Talk then turned to visitors, specifically the record number of them that came to Florida and Orlando in 2011.
“Last year we had 51 million visitors,” said Dyer.
“Is that because of you?,” interjected Kevin, who said that his honor needed to pat himself on the back more. Mayra called him Mayor Buddy “God” Dyer.
“Do you ‘Tebow’ before you go and do your votes?,” quipped Kevin.
The mayor moved on.
Mayra grills Mayor Buddy Dyer about the Performing Arts Center
“Tourism has come back strong in our community,” said Dyer, getting back to business. “But probably The Wizarding World of Harry Potter had a little more to do with it [than I did].”
“Is it possible for you could take [care of the ticket],” joked Kevin.
“You know, that’s actually named after my uncle who was a city commissioner in Kissimmee. He was very instrumental in bringing the Florida State Air Fair to the Kissimmee Airport. … He was, in 1977, killed in a plane crash and they renamed that road and the terminal building after him.”
“I used to live at Dyer and Oak Street,” Tourette-syndromed Chris.
“There’s also Dyer at the [Orlando] Executive Airport,” said Mayra hoping to score another odd fact. “Is that the same thing?”
Buddy wasn’t sure about the origin of that one, sorry.
Conversation then turned back to the future, specifically the Performing Arts Center.
“It’s going to be fabulous … another feather in the hat of what we have to offer people here in Orlando,” said Dyer. “I think that somebody has to be the best, why not us? We have the best arena. We are going to have a very fabulous Arts Center.”
“We have a lot of art happening downtown,” added Dyer.
Mayor Buddy Dyer is very well informed (that’s UCF in the background)
“We’re very big fans of Donna Dallas,” said Mayra. “The woman of the hearts … we always call her the heart lady.”
“Her show just opened Thursday night at Grand Bohemian,” said the mayor, who seems to be showing off now with how ridiculously informed he is. “She is, officially, the Ambassador of Love for the City of Orlando. I gave her that official title.”
Then Mayra turned to discuss the football stadium, which looks much better now, but has long been the source of controversy for its bare-bones looks, old age and previously terrible field.
“Do you like the orange and yellow on the corners?,” asked Dyer. “Say ‘yes,’ because I picked those out.”
Why yellow and orange you ask? Because it is called the Citrus Bowl, so the mayor went with the colors of grapefruit and oranges. OK.
Mayra then keyed off the Citrus Bowl renovations and how they related to the Performing Arts Center, as they are tied together financially.
“When we put together the venues package it was the Amway Center, the Performing Arts Center and a renovation for the Citrus Bowl. The funding mechanisms relied partially on tourist development tax,” Dyer informed.
“In terms of the Amway Center, the tourism community came together and said, ‘we want to support that and we’re going to raise the hotel tax by a penny, the sixth cent.’ And that can only be used to fund tourist advertising or a building that houses a major-league professional sports team,” he further informed.
“So that sixth cent went to the Amway Center,” Dyer said.
“The rest of the agreement was that we would receive the growth in the first five cents above 2% to fund the Performing Arts Center and the Citrus Bowl. And it looked great in 2007, but then we had three years of double-digit declines instead of growth,” admitted Dyer.
That’s when the show’s sometimes producer – who goes by the name “UCF” – chimed in and mentioned the rumor that Orlando was being looked at potentially as a future home of a Major League Soccer (MLS) franchise.
Kevin asks Mayor Buddy Dyer if he can fix his ticket
He pointed out that the MLS commissioner was coming to town next week, as well as five league teams participating in the Pro Soccer Classic taking place Feb. 24-Mar. 3 out at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex. The USL Pro champions the Orlando City Lions are also scheduled to participate in that tournament.
“That’s not a rumor, that’s a fact,” said Dyer of the MLS interest in Orlando. “The ownership of the Orlando City team, the Lions, is high quality. The attendance for this [past] year was higher for Orlando than it was for many of the Major League franchises. We are a market that they are very interested in for expansion.”
But does that mean they are definitely coming here? The Orlando City Lions only have one season under their belts (note: soccer players do not wear belts).
“They like the quality of the ownership group we have in Orlando. So, I think that’s something that’s in our future – but – it could be dependent on an upgrade to the Citrus Bowl,” said Dyer, dimming the hopes.
“So it is going to be very important that we figure out how to go forward with that renovation both for Major League Soccer, but also to make sure that we maintain the Cap One Bowl and the Champs Bowl. You look at last year … oh my gosh. We had the best bowl season that we’ve ever had,” gushed Buddy.
“That generated probably $80 million in economic impact to our community as well,” said Dyer, impressed with the numbers. “Two sell-outs.”
“And let’s not forget SunRail, that’s your baby, I know,” said Mayra. “There’s so much while you were mayor, what do you think …”
“You said while … were,” chimed in Kevin, catching Mayra talking in the past tense.
“Well, as he’s mayor – I have aspirations for him, OK,” admitted Mayra. “Can you promise … if you do anything else big, you have to do us like Jon Stewart, come on here and announce.”
Stewart famously got presidential hopeful John Edwards to announce his candidacy on The Daily Show With Jon Stewart after making an on-air promise he would.
Dyer didn’t miss a beat.
“How about this – I’ll announce that I’m running for re-election on April the 3rd of this year … the mayor’s race is in six weeks, so those of you who live in the City of Orlando, make sure you get out there and participate.”
And just like that it went back to SunRail.
“SunRail is really transformational,” said Dyer. “We as a community went through a process to think about how we wanted to grow. Did we want to sprawl and be an L.A. or did we want to be a more compact city that had transit corridors?”
“As a region, we collectively decided that wanted to grow smarter. And you have to have a good, robust transit system if you are going to grow in that fashion and SunRail is first important key component,” he added.
“Hey, it goes all the way down to Poinciana, by the way,” said Dyer knowing that there were many in the room who “served time” in that area. “It’s a good first step … I don’t think a whole lot of people will be giving up their cars just yet.”
That gave Kevin the opportunity to ask the mayor what he drives, and if he was rolling with 22s or 24s.
“You got young sons, I know they gotta be telling you to ride that chrome,” fired Kevin.
“I have a nice steel blue Tahoe,” said the mayor, matter of factly.
“Are you bling-blinging when you ride down the road?” asked Kevin.
“Not bling-blinging,” said Dyer, laughing. “Nice tinted windows though. … It runs on Flex Fuel, by the way.”
Speaking of flex, are you going to convince Dwight Howard to stay? The gang asked …
“I sure hope so, you know Dwight is such a … just a good guy, a good role model,” said Dyer, obviously a fan of the Orlando Magic‘s superstar center. “He’s one of those people that you really are happy that he’s representing Orlando.”
” I hope stays, the other thing is that he has such an impact. There was a story in the paper today just talking about the charitable impact that he’s had, that he has contributed more time and money to various charities than any NBA player in Orlando’s history,” added Dyer.
Then Mayra steered the talk toward the “Roll Eola” concept, which Dyer hadn’t heard of, at least by that name. So we’ll let him have the reveal.
“You know what’s interesting about that, that’s a concept that’s come up,” said Dyer. “We have this organic campaign about loving your city. If you think about, if you ask someone how long they’ve lived here – they’ll say 2 or 3 years, 10 years, a hundred years, whatever – how do you like it? What’s the response you get? ‘I love it, I love Orlando.’”
He’s getting to it.
“And if you love something, you embrace it, you sustain it you take care of it so we want people thinking in terms of loving their city,” said Dyer. “And through that exercise we were thinking of different things, reasons why people love Orlando and other things that we can do.”
He’s almost there.
“And somebody came up with the idea that once a month, maybe we outta have a – they didn’t call it a Roll Eola – but a Roll Eola around Lake Eola, so have one night a month or something that you can skateboard, or roller skate or in-line skate or whatever else,” he said.
Dyer then pointed out that there is a new mountain bike park opening over near Baldwin Park on the old Naval Training Center property. And then he mentioned the skate park which is still in operation.
Mayor Buddy Dyer only eats Gorilla Bars (not really)
Dyer then dropped the fact that he has Orlando street cred – he was born in Orange Memorial Hospital, now known as ORMC.
Before leaving, Dyer did make an on-air promise that if he runs for president, he’ll make his announcement on the Kevin Sutton Show.
He also mentioned that the easiest way for locals to enjoy the NBA All-Star events is to visit Fan Fest, being held at the Orange County Convention Center. Also, for those who can’t get tickets to the actual All-Star Game, the city is hosting a viewing party down at the Lake Eola Band Shell to be followed by a party that evening.
“There’s something like 180 events associated [with the All-Star Game] – and those are the events not sponsored by the NBA,” said Dyer, who will be attending 179 of them (not really). “Let’s have a good time this week.”
Then, just like that, he was off in his steel blue Tahoe.
There wasn’t too much time left for the show, but the crew talked about how much weight the mayor had lost, Gorilla Bars, Girl Scout Cookies, ESPN Wide World of Sports, P90X work-out guru Tony Horton, First Lady Michelle Obama, MegaCon and the tipped minimum wage issue war being battled in Tallahassee.
Oh, and Faithy Fun Time talked about going to SeaWorld after the show.Keep in touch with the show on Facebook here. Visit The Kevin Sutton Show website here. Watch video episodes on Stokemeter here.
By: The Kevin Sutton Show
Images: Gian Pietri