American Airlines not renewing naming rights to Heat arena

Ira Winderman, Sun Sentinel on

Published in Business News

MIAMI -- The name game has caught up to the Miami Heat.

After spending the last 20 years playing along Biscayne Bay at a facility that has only carried the name of AmericanAirlines Arena, the team's home will have a new title sponsor at midseason.

With American Airlines confirming that it will not renew its naming rights, the Heat will have only the second title sponsor of its arenas in its 32 seasons.

Unlike the Heat, the Miami Dolphins and Florida Panthers have gone through a series of naming sponsors for their stadiums.

What now is known as Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens previously has been named Pro Player Park, Pro Player Stadium, Land Shark Stadium and Sun Life Stadium, as well as Joe Robbie Stadium, Dolphins Stadium, and briefly New Miami Stadium.

What now is known as the BB&T Center in Sunrise, previously has housed the Panthers as National Car Rental Center, Office Depot Center and BankAtlantic Center.

The Heat declined comment on the process, noting in a statement, "In light of the fact that this is an open selection process administered by the Miami-Dade County government, we are not at liberty to comment."

According to Miami Today, "The county in 1997 sold the 20-year naming rights to the air carrier for $42 million starting Dec. 31, 1999, when the arena opened. The county gets a $100,000 reduction to its $6.4 million annual payment to arena manager Basketball Properties Ltd., which gets the remaining $2 million.


"In a new deal from Jan. 1 to June 30, 2030, plus a 10-year renewal option, the county will pay Basketball Properties, the Heat's sister company, $2 million a year and keep everything else."

The Heat two years ago added Weston-based Ultimate Software as the sponsor of their uniform patch.

The Heat previously had played at Miami Arena, without a title sponsor, from the franchise's inception in 1988 until moving to its Biscayne Boulevard home in January 2000.

"American Airlines is proud to call Miami home," a corporate spokesperson said in a statement released to the Sun Sentinel. "We are not seeking to renew naming rights for the arena, but remain the official airline of the Miami Heat and continue to invest in programs that support the community, where 13,500 American team members live and work. We wish Miami-Dade County well in their search for a new sponsor."

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