Miami Heat in conflict with local authorities over arena deal

NBA basketball team Miami Heat has taken a backwards step amid controversy over its proposed and much-debated 10-year arena deal with Miami-Dade County.

Heat managing partner Micky Arison announced terms had been agreed to keep the team at the American Airlines Arena through 2040, under a deal including an inflation-adjusted operating subsidy of $147m (€106.6m) from the county’s Convention Development Tax fund to be reinvested into the building – an increase in the region of $121m.

But Mayor Carlos Gimenez rejected the notion that the renewed partnership was ready to be rubber-stamped ahead of a possible May 6 vote by the county’s commissioners. “We don't have a deal that I'm recommending,” Gimenez told the Miami Herald newspaper. “For some time, I relayed to them I was not comfortable with that amount.”

In response, Heat lobbyist Jorge Luis Lopez said the statement sent out to season-ticket holders from Arison on Wednesday evening had been somewhat premature. “The words were more final than they should have been,’’ Lopez said. “It failed to clarify that the negotiations were ongoing.”

The deal on the table from Miami Heat proposes swapping the current profit-sharing arrangement with Miami-Dade County for fixed rent, with the team paying around $550,000 per-year up to a maximum of $1.5m.

Critics of the alliance up to this point do not feel the county has not received sufficient financial benefits during the Heat’s 14-year tenure at the American Airlines Arena. The franchise counters that modernisation requirements at the facility have eaten into potential Miami-Dade profits.