MIAMI -- Saying they reaffirm the team's commitment to the city, the Miami Heat announced Wednesday night that they have agreed to extend their partnership with Miami-Dade County another 10 years through 2040.
The deal is still subject to approval by the county's commissioners, with a vote possible on May 6, and the announcement hardly assures that the extension is done.
Heat managing partner Micky Arison, whose team plays in the county-owned AmericanAirlines Arena in downtown Miami, said the team struck the deal with Mayor Carlos Gimenez and that the pact includes an inflation-adjusted operating subsidy of $147 million from the county's Convention Development Tax fund, money he said will be reinvested into the building.
"By any measure, the partnership between the Miami Heat and Miami-Dade County has been a hugely successful one," Arison wrote in a statement released by the team shortly before Game 2 of its Eastern Conference first-round series against the Charlotte Bobcats got underway. "Today, we are committing to keep that success going."
Terms of the arena deal have been the source of much debate in South Florida for years, and not long after the Heat released their statement, Gimenez told The Miami Herald that the subsidy issue remains a major concern.
"We don't have a deal that I'm recommending," Gimenez told the newspaper.
Arison cited an economic impact study conducted last spring that found the Heat and the arena generate $1.4 billion annually for the South Florida economy.
"From the community's perspective, this extension has already paid for itself and then some," Arison said.
The team also says the deal provides "cost certainty for the franchise, a necessity in this age of punitive NBA luxury taxes." Arison said that will help the team plan future basketball spending.
The tentative deal also calls for the Heat to make an annual payment to the county, earmarked for what Arison called "perpetually underfunded" parks and recreation activities for residents.