Miami Heat

Heat’s arena soon to get a new name. Here’s one company that has had serious discussions

TD Bank, a New Jersey-based banking and financial services company, has had serious discussions with Miami-Dade County about acquiring naming rights to the Miami Heat’s bayfront arena, according to three non-basketball sources briefed on the situation.

One source called TD Bank the front-runner, but another cautioned that even though TD Bank is pursuing rights, other companies also remain in the mix to replace American Airlines as the naming rights sponsor for the 19,600-seat facility.

American Airlines confirmed in September that it is not pursuing a renewal of its 20-year deal for naming rights, an arrangement that began when the arena opened. The deal expires Dec. 31, and Miami-Dade County hopes to have a new name on the building as soon as possible.

American has been paying $2 million a year for naming rights to the tax-funded arena, which costs the county about $5.5 million a year in subsidies.

Part of the original funding package gave the Heat, owned by Carnival Corp. chairman Micky Arison and partners, the rights to control the sponsorship and sell the name of the arena.

But Miami-Dade County opted last fall to exercise its authority to take over the naming rights and negotiate a new sponsorship arrangement.

A county consultant hired to pursue the deal, Myles Gallagher of Cleveland’s Superlative Group, told commissioners in October 2018 that the Miami arena was worth at least triple American’s $2 million annual payment.

“Six million is very conservative,” Gallagher said.

Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez previously told commissioners: “We think it’s a very good opportunity for us to make a lot more money than we make now.”

American pays about $6 million a year for its NBA sponsorship of the arena where the Dallas Mavericks play, though that venue is also home to the NHL’s Dallas Stars.

Though the Heat’s arena hosts concerts and other events, it has no second full-time tenant besides the Heat.

If the arena’s final sponsorship deal is worth more than $2 million, that will end up meaning more revenue for Miami-Dade.

But if the county cannot land a new sponsor by Jan. 1, it’s required to pay the Heat $2 million in sponsorship revenue even if no deal is in place -- incentive for the county to consummate a deal fairly quickly. What’s more, Superlative Group negotiated a 5 percent commission on any sponsorship revenue.

TD Bank N.A, a subsidiary of the Canadian multinational Toronto-Dominion Bank, operates 25 banks or ATMs in Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties and has branches primarily across the East Coast, in 15 states and Washington, D.C.

TD Bank, which has more than 26,000 employees nationwide, is the seventh-largest U.S. bank by deposits and the eighth-largest U.S. bank by total assets.

The bank took its current name, TD Bank, N.A., in 2008, through the acquisition of Commerce Bank and its subsequent merger with TD Banknorth.

TD Bank North is 14 years into a 20-year, $100 million contract for naming rights for the arena where the NBA’s Boston Celtics and NHL’s Boston Bruins play.

The change in naming rights would necessitate the removal of the massive airplane silhouette on the arena’s roof.

County officials declined to comment, and the Heat is not involved in the process.

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