Let's consider some alternatives closer to the truth. While the Heat caters to less than one percent of the county's population, our inner cities, parks, and beaches lie in disrepair. That means every public dollar given the new arena is a dollar taken away from the 99 percent of Dade citizens who can't afford to buy tickets to Heat games.
Not 100 yards across Biscayne Boulevard there are many acres of vacant, unmaintained land that would have been perfect for the arena, providing parking access from all sides instead of only one. But that land would have had to be purchased. Again, it was all about money.
We also have Dade's seaport wanting to build docks in the park. The port was once there, an eyesore on the waterfront. The early pioneers of Miami created Dodge Island so those very messy, very unsightly commercial facilities could be moved from what they perceived could be a pristine urban shoreline. To put back the very unattractive buses, trucks, oil cans, and cranes on Miami's downtown waterfront is unconscionable.
Miami has been raped many times in many ways, but I consider this the ultimate rape. And it's all about money.
The Heat's Overtown Solution: Turkeys for Everyone
I was appalled to read that Jim DeFede felt the Miami Heat had not done anything for the Overtown community and that a new arena should not be built. Apparently DeFede has never come to Overtown and spoken with any of the residents who live here and have benefited from all the many great things that have happened.
I thank the Miami Heat for the support of the Overtown community. On so many occasions this team has willingly and unselfishly given their time, resources, and talent to enrich the lives of our residents.
Not once that we have called on this team and its staff have they failed to respond to our plight. They have provided social, educational, and developmental activities for youth not only in Overtown but in all of Dade County. They have proven to be true role models and real team players in the effort to help the community.
Our elderly population has benefited from their generosity during the holiday season. In fact, the first Thanksgiving celebration was sponsored by the Miami Heat on November 19, 1995. Many residents benefited who otherwise would not have had a dinner that day. The Heat will provide Thanksgiving dinner again this year on November 17. I invite you to join us at this event, located at the Ninth Street pedestrian mall, so you may see first-hand the Heat's impact on the community. I feel it is very important that you contact the residents of Overtown when you want to know who has helped and what they have done for our community.