The Heat Group notified Miami-Dade County last week of our interest in exercising our option to extend our partnership for an additional 10 years. The decision is in keeping with prudent business planning and would advance the three primary objectives of our original partnership: keeping the Heat in Miami, continuing to have the Arena serve as an integral part of the revitalization and resurgence of downtown Miami and continuing to serve as one of Miami-Dade County’s powerful economic development engines.
As the Miami Heat begins its 25th anniversary season, we are once again proud to call ourselves World Champions. We view the 2012 Championship as a milestone for the community and the team and as tangible proof of the success of our unique public-private partnership — a privately financed, publicly owned arena built on county-owned land, the use of which was approved by the voters of Miami-Dade County in 1996 pursuant to a countywide referendum.
An extension will foster continued positive economic impacts and enhanced global exposure of our community, all while providing reassurance to the county, our fans, sponsors, current and future Miami Heat players and professional staff, that for the next 25 years the American Airlines Arena will continue to be the home of the World Champion Miami Heat.
Recently, we commissioned the Washington Economics Group to conduct an economic impact analysis of the operations and externality benefits of The Heat Group. WEG concluded that the Miami Heat and the AmericanAirlines Arena produce more than $1.4 billion each year in positive economic impacts to local communities, the South Florida region and the state of Florida, including:
• Most notably, over 21,000 jobs for South Florida residents supported by The Heat Group.
• More than $589 million in labor income annually.
• $171 million in federal, state and local fiscal revenues.
• $918 million in Gross Domestic Product.
While the importance of the dollars generated and the resulting jobs cannot be overstated, the nature and quality of the contributions that comprise the $1.4 billion are equally noteworthy. The importance of The Heat Group’s contributions to civic pride, international “Miami” brand exposure and civic and charitable contributions are substantial and extremely valuable.
Success in sports and entertainment is the product of hard work, dedication, long-term planning and significant investment. To that end, since the opening of the AmericanAirlines Arena in 1999, The Heat Group has covered all operating losses, invested nearly $40 million dollars in renovations and other improvements to the Arena and hundreds of millions of dollars in players, game operations and community events — all necessary to produce two world championships for our community and maintain the Arena as a first-class facility.
Our success has taught us that prudent business practice requires constant review, the evaluation of even the most successful formulas and long-term planning. In truth, while our partnership has been successful on many levels to date, there are a host of issues that have come up over the past 15 years that need to be addressed long-term, including ongoing traffic, parking and safety concerns given the growth of downtown, pedestrian and vehicular flow issues with the PAC now up and running and two new museums soon to come on line next door in Museum Park, and a host of other issues that could work better for all.
We look forward to sitting down with Mayor Carlos Gimenez and county commissioners to discuss these issues, the terms of the extension and to reaffirm our commitments to the community, as follows:
• The Heat will remain in Miami and the arena will continue to serve as the anchor to the redevelopment of the downtown corridor.
• The Heat Group will continue to assume 100 percent of the operating risk.
• The Heat Group will continue to finance the ongoing maintenance and improvements of the arena.
• The Heat Group will continue to diligently manage and operate the arena for the extended period as a first-class sports and entertainment facility.
In the final analysis, our public-private partnership is one that the entire community can and should be justifiably proud of. The Heat Group looks forward, with deep commitment and pride, to continuing this partnership and maintaining the Arena as a showplace which puts this community’s best foot forward for the entire world to see.
Eric S. Woolworth is president of Business Operations for The Heat Group.