Miami Heat Wants $121 Million in New Taxpayer Subsidies to Stay at American Airlines Arena

Categories: Politicks

Photo by Manuel Tennert via Wikimedia Commons
A jubilant email landed in the inboxes of Miami Heat season ticketholders yesterday signed by owner Mickey Arison and trumpeting an agreement with Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez for a new ten-year deal to keep the team at the American Airlines Arena. "We thank Mayor Gimenez for his vision," Arison crowed. Only problem: Gimenez hadn't actually signed off on the deal yet. That small detail erupted into a bizarre war of words between the two men.

But the real takeaway for residents is this: The Heat front office is expecting taxpayers to pony up for $121 million in new subsidies.

See also: Tricky Micky: Arison's Heat Doesn't Pay Rent for County-Owned Arena

On its surface, the details of the Heat's new proposed lease seem friendlier to taxpayers. For the first time, the Heat would agree to pay a fixed rent to the county, which owns the property. The team would pay the county up to $1.5 million annually to use the arena under the new package.

That would indeed eliminate one of the most absurd parts of the county's current deal with the team.

Back in 1997, the Heat persuaded the county to use a $38 million piece of bayfront property to build a $221 million arena (replacing the Miami Arena, which, never forget, was only eight years old). Their tactic: the time-honored sports franchise tradition of threatening to move away, this time to Broward County. The blackmail worked, and the team got its new digs on the bay.

In exchange, the team was supposed to hand over 40 percent of profits that exceeded $14 million to taxpayers. Guess what? Year after year, Arison claimed that profits never quite passed that benchmark, even after the arrival of the Big Three brought skyrocketing ticket and merchandising sales. (He eventually paid about $300,000 to the county, a piddling figure that earned a rebuke two years ago from the county's inspector general.)

So the fact that the Heat is now ready to pay fixed rent for its lease is great! Except that the team would like that rent to be coupled with a new, $147 million subsidy drawn from hotel taxes. Even with full rent being paid up, that would put a $121 million dent in taxpayers' wallets.

In Arison's letter to fans, he pitches the new subsidies as the only way for the team to put a competitive squad on the floor while keeping the AAA in shape.

"[It] will allow us to continue doing what we've always done: reinvest in the County-owned AmericanAirlines Arena in order to maintain the level of excellence you've come to expect," Arison writes.

But just in case fans didn't get the message, one county commissioner helpfully spelled out to the Miami Herald the consequences of what might happen if they refused: The team, like the Florida Panthers, could pack up for greener grass in Broward. "What's it going to mean if we don't have a guaranteed team here?" Sally Heyman asked the Herald.

Arison's letter claims Gimenez signed on to the new deal and that it will be presented to the county commission May 6. But that now seems unlikely, with Gimenez angrily denying he agreed to the terms and with most of the commission telling the Herald they're skeptical.

Still, expect Arison to return sometime soon with the same playbook: The team can't possibly compete without millions from taxpayers, and if they're not willing to pony up, he'll just have to pick up and take his franchise elsewhere.

Oh, Arison's net worth, in case you're wondering: just shy of $6 billion.

Here's his letter to season ticketholders:

Ari Son Letter

Follow Miami New Times on Facebook and Twitter @MiamiNewTimes.

My Voice Nation Help
121 comments
Alex Emm
Alex Emm

Riiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiight. A multi billoon dollar franchise needs OUR money! HAHAHAHA! Tell them to take it from the players if its LIKE THAT! Psssh!

Nick Moss
Nick Moss

Like the team would go anywhere else. That's hysterical.

rriglesias
rriglesias

Where's the "up to $14MM" the Heat were supposed to pay the county? Only $.3M on the course of 10 years, even when the Heat won two Championships, and have been the hottest team in the NBA.

Something does not make sense.


Morale, you never subside a "for Profit business"

rriglesias
rriglesias

There's no doubt the Heat bring business to the City of Miami, thus it does not justify subsiding them with $121M.  Even more when money is urgently needed in Education.


Take them to Broward, it would be interesting to see attendance.


Victor Sepulveda
Victor Sepulveda

Absolutely no. Are you kidding me? Just King James alone can cover this expense on a yearly basis and still be richer than 90 percent of Americans [over 400 million people]. You do the math.

Bob Horton
Bob Horton

I'd like to see those millions used for education. Does Mickey need that many dollars of subsidies?

Patrick Aristegui
Patrick Aristegui

I think it's not that bad of a plan, it's 14.7 mill a year for 10 years, that means great upkeep on the stadium and staffing, marketing will get stronger, and perhaps other talented young players will want to join in the next generation of greatness after the Big 3 era Erez William Alberto

Muse TD
Muse TD

Let me count the nopes.

TeoMendez
TeoMendez

Really... I think the Heat need Miami more than Miami needs the Heat

ajeffcoa
ajeffcoa

Let them leave. A team that would threaten it's own host city and fans for money is no friend.

William Gallosa
William Gallosa

Where do you the salary to all the players are going to come from, not from ticket sales ....

Macy John
Macy John

NO! Pay for it yourself! Why are we socializing the risks and privatizing the profits? No more crony capitalism!

Rosemarie Baragaña
Rosemarie Baragaña

Miami Heat, Soccer, Baseball, all Billionaire companies! NO NO NO TO TAXES!

DrumRollPlease
DrumRollPlease

Police, rescue, sanitation, public works are on constant call to babysit these venues.  Good luck paying everybody in the future. 

Patrick Garcia
Patrick Garcia

How about... the player use some of their money?

Cris Diaz
Cris Diaz

And the rich get richer... Meanwhile art and music programs are being cut from public schools. What's the priority? Distract people with mind-numbing entertainment (sports) so you can continue making millions off of them.

whateveryousay
whateveryousay topcommenter

How much do they pay their players?

I think they can afford to do it on their own.


DRAKEMALLARD.0
DRAKEMALLARD.0 topcommenter

Every year, millions of taxpayer dollars are poured into stadiums, 
hockey rinks, baseball parks, and other arenas in order to attract and retain 
professional sports teams in big cities.  Often the money is spent by 
the cities after a team "threatens" to leave the city.When that happens, of course, the local news media act as the willing accomplices of the billionaires who own the teams.When city and state governments build facilities for sports organizations which are owned by billionaires, and raise taxes as a result, it is clearly an abuse of power the infrastructure Is falling apart and the schools are in decline with overcrowding and not enough quality teachers no after school programs no firemen,  no policemen, no health programs for the poor. also the cites  are always going to be in debt. this thing do make money.

it time for more recalls /jail time

Vanessa Ortiz
Vanessa Ortiz

also, what phillip morris said about what has happened to panther and marlins ticket sales upon moving to broward illustrates what a thinly veiled bluff this is...time to call it hard.

Vanessa Ortiz
Vanessa Ortiz

please feel free to gtfo then heat. gawd greed is SO ugly.

Kenneth A. Leach
Kenneth A. Leach

The rich will always rule I guess. Different set of laws

Kenneth A. Leach
Kenneth A. Leach

Again business sports should not supercede the majority. You hired a mayor to help create jobs. Miami it a tourist town and people don't come for the Heat but the beaches. Can't you even see the fight with a proposed soccer stadium creating more havoc on the traffic problems. Most locals don't go to the games

blk1doggy
blk1doggy

In that case why not just continue not to pay the rent. 

Jeffrey Knight
Jeffrey Knight

I want to understand all of this...the Arison family owns the Miami Heat and Carnival Cruise Lines, based at Port Miami. They already avoid paying corporate taxes at the port, and now they want to avoid rent at the AAA?

Luis Herran
Luis Herran

let them pack their shit and leave...

Daniel Marques Pereira
Daniel Marques Pereira

Education, poverty, health care psshh that's so 2013. Lets fucking cut some trees down to commemorate the new organized sports team. Yea. What a fucking joke (vomit)

Geoffrey Mercer
Geoffrey Mercer

what a plonker - he should have kept quiet until the authorities passed the deal - is miami full of plonkers

Klaudia Bello
Klaudia Bello

And they talk about welfare recipients wanting handouts? Oh please, team owners are the new age welfare recipients, they too want our tax money. Shameful!

miamitrev2
miamitrev2 topcommenter

Arison is and always has been a total scumbag

Alain D'Pierre
Alain D'Pierre

Ask all the businesses that are in brickell and the downtown area what they want. 15-18k people no longer frequenting their businesses about 62 days out of the year... (41 reg season home games, plus playoffs). Let's see what that does to the City of Miami's economy. And if you're seriously asking for the players to foot the bill, then you have no understanding of the business of sports.

Jose Antonio Navarro
Jose Antonio Navarro

How about pack the Heat's bags to Broward, tear the roof off the Arena and stick that soccer team in there that's threatening to back up traffic in the port.

castillocopy
castillocopy

This is ridiculous....anyway you slice it....it is still average middle class taxpayers subsidizing billionaires so they can pay millionaires to play a game, and off other millionaires that can't name the starting lineup.... skyboxes and floor seats to games that those same average tax payers cannot afford to even attend. Enough. Miami has terrible traffic, low paying jobs, no High tech job incubator to attract companies, high crime, no reliable transportation system, etc etc....priorities Miami.

The Shalimar Motel
The Shalimar Motel

cut players, they will not feel that at all.. why cut from middle class again.. :(

miamitrev2
miamitrev2 topcommenter

If your seriously asking the taxpayers to continue to foot the bill as they have for the past 14 years....well you are as dumb as your post makes you out to be

Now Trending

Miami Concert Tickets

From the Vault

 

Loading...