Miami-Dade County Still Has Not Found A Naming Rights Partner For The City’s Arena

It didn’t work out the way politicians planned.

Miami-Dade County has struck out in its quest to sell the naming rights to the Miami arena that houses Micky Arison’s Heat National Basketball Association business. The local government took on that job about a year ago. Miami-Dade County officials thought they might be able to sell the rights for more than the $2 million annual payment Arison got from American Airlines. Then the government entity would give Arison $2 million a year and that the extra naming rights money from a new naming rights partner would go to pay off the Heat’s public subsidy that Arison gets for using the building which is about $5.5 million per fiscal year.

In 2014, Heat lawyers signed off on a deal with Miami Dade County that allowed the municipality starting in 2020 to sell the naming rights instead of the team. Local politicians were hoping that some company would jump at the opportunity to pay big money to put its name on that arena’s marquee. Miami-Dade County was hoping the bidding for the naming rights would start at six million dollars annually. Names come and go with companies who had naming rights such as Miller Beer in Milwaukee or American Airlines in Miami or AT &T in San Francisco or Banker’s Life in Indianapolis deciding to get out of the venue rights naming business. It is unclear if putting a name on an arena or a stadium is worthwhile or if a company CEO wants to spend millions to put a name on a shingle for vanity purposes. The Miami building is subsidized from local hotel taxes as the county takes a piece of the tax and redirects it to the Heat business which technically pays the debt on the building. Miami-Dade County owns the building and the land that houses the arena. The county now owes Arison $2 million annually.

Miami Heat’s Kelly Olynyk (9) and Jimmy Butler (22) react with teammates after the Heat beat the Milwaukee Bucks 116-114 in an NBA conference semifinal playoff basketball game Wednesday, Sept. 2, 2020, in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)