By Michael E. Miller
By Allie Conti
By David Villano
By Jose D. Duran
By Michael E. Miller
By Allie Conti
By Kyle Swenson
By Luther Campbell
"What are you, an idiot? Is everybody down there senile? I don't care where the money comes from, where the hell are your priorities?"
"The Heat says a new arena is necessary in order for them to make more money so they can keep up with skyrocketing players' salaries."
"Now that's bullshit. Whose fault is it that salaries are so high? The owners. And now because they can't hold the line on these obscene salaries, they expect the public to bail them out. Who owns the Heat?"
"I've got an idea: Why doesn't Mr. 65 build his own arena with his own money? But I guess he doesn't want to do that because it'd drop him down to number 71. The greedy corporate pig."
"You know, I called him the same thing a few months ago. Back in the Eighties, when the owner of the Miami Dolphins, Joe Robbie, wanted a new stadium, he built it with his own money. But Heat officials say Arison refuses to do that. And get this: Now Arison is talking about selling the team and moving it to another city if voters don't approve the plans for his arena."
"Has Arison ever heard of Art Modell? (Laughs.) Well, at least you're going to get to vote."
"Even that has been an uphill fight. Opponents of the arena collected more than 48,000 signatures on petitions to force a November 5 vote. The leader of that drive, Dan Paul, spent more than $60,000 of his own money to organize the effort after county commissioners refused to voluntarily place the arena question on the ballot."
"What does he get out of the deal?"
"Nothing. He has no financial interest in the property. He merely believes the land should be used for a park, like the City of Miami promised years ago."
"How does Arison hope to win?"
"First of all, he's going to court to try to block a vote. If that doesn't work, he's going to try to fool some of the voters into approving the arena: When the petition was presented last month, the county commissioners wrote a straightforward ballot question -- if you wanted the arena built you voted yes, and if you didn't want it you voted no. But a few days later Arison wrote a letter to commissioners urging them to fiddle with the language, which they did at their next meeting. Now a yes vote means you don't want the arena and a no means you do."
"I get it. People go into the voting booth and see the word arena on the ballot. They vote no, thinking they're killing the deal, when in fact they're voting for it. That's pretty sneaky."
"Especially since public opinion polls show that voters are overwhelmingly against this project. Not only that, but the Heat will mount a huge media blitz. Mr. Cross said they're going to spend 'hundreds of thousands of dollars' on an ad campaign to convince voters that this is a good deal."
"Hundreds of thousands of dollars?"
"Those were his exact words, 'hundreds of thousands of dollars.' What makes that figure even more startling is that in June, when the Heat went before the county commission to get the arena approved, one of the commissioners, Javier Souto, asked the Heat to immediately donate $500,000 to the county's parks system as a sign of good will to the community. You should have heard all the moaning from arena supporters. Finally a compromise was worked out whereby the Heat would donate $100,000 a year for five years. And now they're ready to blow hundreds of thousands of dollars in the next four weeks on TV ads and slick flyers."
"That should give you a sense of their priorities."
"Yeah. Well, I'd better get back to work."
"Me too. Give me a call and let me know how it turns out. Bullshitting. Sounds to me like the whole team could teach it. Amazing."