Miami Heat's New Subsidy Deal Will Face a Commission Vote Today UPDATED

Categories: Politicks

aaarena560.jpg
Photo by Bob B. Browns via Flickr | CC2.0
Fourteen years ago, Miami-Dade County negotiated one of the worst "profit-sharing" deals with a local sports franchise ever put to paper. Taxpayers gave Miami Heat owner Micky Arison $38 million in land and a $6.4 million annual subsidy to build the American Airlines Arena downtown, and in exchange the team was supposed to pay back some profits. The total return on that investment? Thirteen years of no sharing followed by a single $240,000 check last year.

Today, the county commission will vote on a new deal to replace that boondoggle. The good news is that under the new terms, Arison will promise to pay back $1 million every year. The bad news is that taxpayers will eventually up their own subsidy to the billionaire owner.

Update: The deal has passed by a 10-2 margin after several hours of testimony, including a plea on behalf of the team by Alonzo Mourning.

See also: Miami Heat Owner Micky Arison Still Won't Share AA Arena Profits With Taxpayers

Here's the nitty gritty on the new proposal: It would end the contentious profit-sharing arrangement, which Arison managed to mostly avoid because he could count long-term stadium construction costs against profits even as the Heat became the league's best franchise. Instead, the owner will agree to give a million dollars a year to the county's parks department.

Taxpayers, in turn, will continue their annual $6.4 million subsidy until 2030 and then bump that to $8.5 million from 2031 until 2035, adding an extra five years to the deal keeping the Heat on the bay front.

In all, the new agreement will cost taxpayers about $19 million, the Herald reports, though that cost would be more like $2 million in current cash when inflation is taken into account.

"It is in the best interest of the County to ensure the Miami Heat remain as users of the Arena for the long term," County Mayor Carlos Gimenez, who negotiated the deal, writes to commissioners in a letter backing the plan. "Just blocks west of the Arena is a reminder of what happens when you do not have long-term commitments; an empty lot where the Miami Arena once stood."

The vote brings a strange negotiation to a close a few months after Arison prematurely sent an email to season ticket holders promoting the new deal -- drawing an angry rebuke from Gimenez, who hadn't yet brought the package to commissioners for approval.

It also comes as stadium subsidies are as controversial as ever in Dade County, where backlash seems to be growing against David Beckham's proposal for a bayfront soccer stadium next to AA Arena and the mere mention of Marlins Park is still enough to get civic activists foaming at the mouth.

The new plan, by most accounts, is pretty fair for taxpayers in the grand scheme of things. But it's worth remembering that sports arena deals are perhaps the most absurd realm of civil policy in America and any deal that gives millions in taxpayer subsidies every year to the richest guy in Florida is worth questioning.

Here's Gimenez's letter to commissioners outlining all the details in the new plan, via the Miami Herald:

New Heat Proposal

Update: The deal has passed the commission with 10 yes votes and only commissioners Lynda Bell and Xavier Suarez against it.

There was one unexpected diversion during the discussion, the Herald reports: An argument broke out over whether the Heat's "non-compete" clause in the contract -- which bars the county from subsidizing any smaller arenas nearby -- would preclude the proposed David Beckham MLS stadium in Museum Park. Gimenez told the chamber he believes that clause refers only to direct subsidies, which aren't on the table in Beckham's case, but a county attorney said he was unsure whether a deal for county land could cause similar problems.

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21 comments
Anthonyvop1
Anthonyvop1 topcommenter

You people voted for these jerks.

You wanted "Job Creation" hahahahaha.


Hey New Times, How come you didn't mention who voted AGAINST this deal?  Could it be that one of the commissioners was someone you have been bashing for years?


Bravo and Kudos to Commissioner Lynda Bell. 

Mike Medina
Mike Medina

NT: monitor the real news during budget time for labor/union contract negotiations. Mayor Carlos Gimenez will say there is no $ despite a 6% spike in collected tax roll. Unions except for MD Fire will file for impasse and get demands for reduced salaries, benefits, etc while the Heat owners and alike receive subsidies. This will be news I am forecasting now in June. Stay tuned!

Anthony Fuda
Anthony Fuda

Whoever wrote this must be gay!!! Shut the fuck up and let the Heat do whatever they want!!!

Nick Moss
Nick Moss

Like the HEAT would ever leave! Call their bluff.

Mike Medina
Mike Medina

It's all politics anyway. Call it what you want but someone is getting free tickets and parking in exchange for the subsidy while MD County, taxpayers, & it's employees are "hurting" according to Mr Gimenez. Why don't the Heat negotiate after the fiscal year in September???

DrumRollPlease
DrumRollPlease

How about a one page contract?  We agree to pay X amount a year for X years.  500-pages is going to filled with loopholes.  Who pays the police and EMT to be on standby at these games?  The Heat or the city? 

Clarence Bolanos
Clarence Bolanos

Eddie Suarez....i can agree to that..... But the point is that I'm just calling a spade a spade.... If subsidies are frowned upon then they should be frowned upon across the board in all sectors..... But I might be in the minority on this.... Eliminate all subsidies from green energy company billionaires to billionaires that own sports teams and even corporate billionaires as well....

EzƦă VɅǹ
EzƦă VɅǹ

Why doesn't the city just give heat fans $100 subsidy to buy tickets and that will accomplish the same thing.

Humberto Reyes
Humberto Reyes

They'll give breaks to millionaires but want to cut its own employees pay by 10% corrupt politicians

Eddie Suarez
Eddie Suarez

Clarence, I wouldn't make any assumptions as to what I'm ok with. If we really live in a free market then there shouldn't be any subsidies or tax breaks or incentives because that gives one company or business an advantage over the competition.

Clarence Bolanos
Clarence Bolanos

Ummmmmm Danny Martinez...you did read the article right? This is a county subsidy not a state one.... You don't like it move to Broward or any other County for that matter and your hands will be clean.....

Amber270
Amber270

Why is this not criminal? And why on earth do complicated financial deals that politicians nor their constituents can justify and explain make it to the Commission??? WE ARE PAYING TO BUILD Arison's empire!! This has nothing to do with the Heat!  He is a business man. Rather than invest (OUR MONEY!!) in our children, in education, IN ANYTHING that can guarantee responsible - sustainable - long-term economic gain, we instead let millions (BILLIONS ACTUALLY) go into a hobby (watching basketball is a hobby or pastime) and let these same people tell us they cannot afford to pay our teachers, provide scholarships to our children for school, fund responsible waste management and recycling in the city or provide proper care and transport for the animal dumping epidemic in South Florida.


If you're not outraged, you're part of the problem. 


BTW - Heat fan all-the-way! That doesn't mean I am comfortable watching my money taken as taxes go towards supporting the EXTREMELY WEALTHY and without my consent. Where are the ethics? 

Danny Martinez
Danny Martinez

This is of course the state using force on citizens to pay for a rich mans bills digusting fuck the heat I don't care

Eddie Suarez
Eddie Suarez

but giving rich folks subsidies is ok as long as you don't call it welfare

Daniela Fuentes
Daniela Fuentes

Probablemente a muchos no les interese el tema, pero voy a escribirlo de todas maneras porque siento que al menos a una persona le sera de ayuda. Hace poco tiempo me inscribi en esta pagina para bajar de peso que me permitio bajar 2 kilos por semana. Busca el sitio, se llama : FACTORPESO. COM

miamitrev2
miamitrev2 topcommenter

Thanks for the laugh Simpleton.

Anthonyvop1
Anthonyvop1 topcommenter

All subsidies are cronyism.

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