It is all about money.
It appears Miami Heat owner Micky Arison is not going to get as much money out of arena revenues from the Miami arena that he wanted. Miami-Dade County is about ready to take over the naming rights to the arena and cap the amount of money the Heat franchise can get from slapping a name on the building to $2 million annually. That can happen in a year. Miami-Dade County might be able to sell the rights for more than the $2 million annual payment Arison gets from American Airlines and use anything the county gets from the naming rights that would exceed two million dollars to chip away at the Heat’s public subsidy that Arison gets for using the building which is about $5.5 million per fiscal year. Arison doesn’t seem happy with the possibility of losing the chance to sell the naming rights.
In 2014, Heat lawyers signed off on a deal with Miami Dade County that allowed the municipality starting in 2020 to sell the naming rights instead of the team. It is thought that some companies would jump at the opportunity to pay big money to put their names on that arena. Names come and go with companies who had naming rights such as Safeco in Seattle or Air Canada in Toronto deciding to get out of the venue rights naming business. It is unclear if putting a name on an arena or a stadium is worthwhile or if a company CEO wants to spend millions to put a name on a shingle for vanity purposes. The Miami building is subsidized from local hotel taxes as the county takes a piece of the tax and redirects it to the Heat business which technically pays the debt on the building. Miami-Dade County owns the building and the land that houses the arena. Miami-Dade County is playing hardball with Micky Arison and his Miami Heat business.