Miami Heat Owe Taxpayers Millions, Dade County Inspector General Finds

Categories: Politicks, Sports
American Airlines Arena.jpg
The Miami Heat owe Miami taxpayers millions in cost overruns to capital improvement projects on the American Airlines Arena. So says Miami-Dade Inspector General Chris Mazzella, in an audit report that hasn't been publicly released yet but which sources close to the review have confirmed to Riptide.

Mazzella has been pouring over the arena's financial statements since last June. His investigation follows New Times report that despite getting millions in taxpayer subsidies and raking in a fortune, the team has repeatedly finessed its books to avoid sharing any revenue with the County.

Mazzella's soon-to-be released report finds that Basketball Properties Ltd., the company that operates the arena, owes Dade County more than $3 million for the construction overruns.

The company has rejected that conclusion, sources say, and insisted the costs are covered under its operating agreement with the county.

We've put in calls to Mazzella and the County to comment on the record about the pending report, but haven't heard back yet.

That County agreement has proven to be rather sweet for the Heat and team owner Mickey Arison over the years. Back in 1997, the County agreed to swap $38 million worth of bayfront property and to pay $6.4 million annually for 30-years to help maintain the new arena after Arison threatened to move the Heat to Broward County.

Although the agreement calls for the Heat to share 40 percent of all profits over a $14 million benchmark, the County has never seen a dime of shared revenue, even after LeBron and company brought in a record $60 million in revenue last year.

That's because Arison's company moves cash around to avoid reporting any excess profits, such as in 2009-10 when Basketball Properties Ltd advanced almost $14 million to the team and then reported the money as a financial loss in the ledgers.

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6 comments
Walkinpnis
Walkinpnis

Let's not forget the fact that a pedestrian bridge was suppose to be built to connect Bayside & the Arena as part of the agreement that allowed the Arena to be built. A decade later still no bridge. the least they could do is give each tax payer a free ticket to one game a year. I'm mean we paid/pay for the damn thing.

ZacharyFagenson
ZacharyFagenson

This is such old news already. The Heat Group, which own the arena plus the team are supposed to pay some percent of revenues beyond a certain amount to the county because the county OWNS the land the arena sits on. They've never paid it, and likely never will. Holland + Knight negotiated the deal on behalf of Mickey way back when.

Honestly though the arena and a better team are good for downtown. Especially when you compare it to Bayside, which is a basically a slummy Hialeah strip mall dropped on one of the best pieces of real estate in town.

Heat deadbeats
Heat deadbeats

The Heat owner and his management team have NEVER paid a dime in rent. The Heat has money to pay Pat Riley, James, Wade and Bosh but the Heat stiffs the taxpayers EVERY year.

seep
seep

if they win the championship, all is forgiven

seep
seep

the Heat are an economic boon to the region.  Without pro sports, Miami would be Tegucigalpa.

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