With a slew of national musical acts
filling seats, and LeBron James and Chris Bosh propelling the Miami
Heat to the NBA Finals, the American Airlines Arena brought in a
record-breaking $60 million in revenue in 2011. Yet for the 13th
straight year, the Heat won't be sharing any of those profits with
Miami-Dade taxpayers -- you know, the ones who footed the bill to
build the damn place.
The Miami Marlins' ballpark
boondoggle has drawn understandable outrage, but this latest slight
to Dade residents shows the deal with Heat owner Micky Arison is just
as sick. The Carnival Cruise Lines chairman essentially takes advantage of a
loophole so he never has to share a nickel with voters who built his
Under a 1997 construction agreement, the county gave away $38 million of land so Arison could erect the $213 million venue, plus it OKed a $6.4 million annual subsidy for operating the arena for the next 30 years.
In return, Arison's subsidiary -- Basketball Properties, Ltd. -- would pay the county 40 percent of all profits over $14 million.
Guess what? The arena always falls short of the magic number.
According to Arison, not even last season's playoff run, which helped the Triple A generate $15 million more than it had earned in 2010, boosted team profits above $14 million.
Even beyond the NBA, the arena had a great year. Industry publication Pollstar ranks the American Airlines Arena seventh in the nation and 18th in the world, with 340,000 tickets sold from January through September of last year.
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But Arison, via Basketball Properties, claims the arena is an extremely expensive place to run. Last year the Heat reported $47.8 million in operating expenses, resulting in only $13.2 million in profit. Those costs included "depreciation and amortization" that ate up $12 million. In fact, "depreciation and amortization" -- what corporations define as the loss in value of its fixed assets, such as kitchen equipment or computers -- has somehow gobbled up $55 million of the Heat's revenue for the past five years.
We phoned Basketball Properties' chief financial officer, Samuel Schulman, to find out what exactly has lost value at the arena. Schulman did not return our phone call.
So we decided to ask Arison himself -- who for the past 16 years refused to answer any New Times inquiries about him -- via Twitter. Here's his reply: