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The UCF downtown campus received its first major private donation today after the Orlando Magic pledged $1.5 million toward the construction of a new academic building.

The donation arrives less than two weeks after President John C. Hitt urged private donors to contribute $20 million toward the new campus. The university has requested an additional $20 million in funds from the state, and will commit $20 million from its own resources toward construction costs.

"A strong, vibrant, dynamic downtown is paramount to the continued growth of our community," said Orlando Magic CEO Alex Martins, a UCF trustee and alumnus, in a press release. "UCF's downtown campus will be a catalyst for that continued development, bringing several thousand students downtown, while serving as a center for job creation."

The Orlando Magic donation will be presented by check to Mike Morseberger, UCF's vice president for alumni relations and development, during the Magic-Houston game Dec. 23 at the Amway Center.

In addition to other funds, the city of Orlando and the developers of the Creative Village have donated $75 million worth of land and infrastructure for the downtown campus. Valencia's Board of Trustees plans to donate $2 million toward the academic building it would share with UCF, and the Orange County board of commissioners and the developers of the Creative Village pledged $3 million toward the overall project

"To bring the UCF Downtown campus vision to reality we will once again use our community's unique formula for partnerships that has resulted in projects like SunRail and the community venues," said Mayor Buddy Dyer in a press release. "We are grateful to the DeVos family and Orlando Magic for being the first private-sector partners to make a commitment to help us advance this catalytic project which will benefit our City and our entire region."

This is not the first time the DeVos family, which owns the Orlando Magic, has contributed to UCF – in 2002, they established the DeVos Sport Business Management program with a $2.5 million endowment.

"The DeVos family and Orlando Magic are longtime, generous supporters of our university, particularly the DeVos Sport Business Management Program and our first-generation students," Hitt said in a press release. "We are thankful that the Magic share our vision that a robust, innovative UCF Downtown campus will recast the future of Orlando and add significantly to the educational opportunities for our students."

UCF plans to open its downtown campus during the fall of 2018. More than 7,700 students from UCF and Valencia will attend the campus.

The campus' location will provide students with internships and job opportunities within walking distance. It will also be near the Florida Interactive Entertainment Academy, UCF's graduate video gaming school.

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Alissa Smith is the News Editor for the Central Florida Future. Email her at alissas@centralfloridafuture.com.

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