The Heat Shake Down Miami-Dade Residents Again

Posted on Friday, 05.16.14

Gimenez and Arison reach deal on Heat arena; push is on for Tuesday vote

Miami Heat fans gather outside the AmericanAirlines Arena July 9, 2010, for a welcome to Miami celebration for Chris Bosh and LeBron James.

Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez has reached a deal with Miami Heat owner Micky Arison to rewrite the 1997 agreement that gave the team a $6.4 million subsidy and a profit-sharing arrangement that has yielded almost no money to Miami-Dade, according to people familiar with the talks.

Gimenez aides are now racing to get the proposed agreement in front of commissioners for a Tuesday vote, but at least three are pushing back on the timing.

“I don’t understand the rush,’’ said Commissioner Xavier Suarez, who opposes renegotiating the Heat deal, which expires in 2030.

The proposed terms haven’t been made public. The Heat’s public campaign for an additional 10 years on the current deal began during the play-offs, and Arison first told fans he had hoped to have commissioners vote on the deal two weeks ago.

Rebeca Sosa, the chairwoman of the County Commission, wields authority over the agenda. She said Friday county lawyers told her the proposed agreement contains 500 pages, and she wasn’t eager to analyze it in just a few days.

“I want to make sure we do things right,’’ she said. “I don’t think it’s fair to accept one item without giving it the proper time for the staff and commissioners to get involved.”

Arison proposed increasing the yearly subsidy from its current amount of $6.4 million to an average of $15 million during the last 10 years of the extended agreement. Arison also offered to donate about $1 million a year to the county’s parks department in exchange for ending the current profit-sharing arrangement, which has only paid Miami-Dade about $270,000 after 14 years.

The original deal had the team finance construction of the county-owned arena, then pay itself back $213 million, plus interest, out of profits.

Commissioner Esteban “Steve” Bovo said early Friday afternoon that he had not been briefed by Gimenez aides on an agreement. He said Tuesday may be too soon for the elected body to decide on a proposed deal.

“We’re cutting it close,’’ he said. “We’re really cutting it close. I don’t know if it gives commissioners enough time to digest it.”

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