The search for a new AmericanAirlines Arena naming-rights partner continues, as Miami-Dade County officials are ending the year without a new agreement for the Miami Heat‘s home.
The existing naming-rights deal with American Airlines expires at year’s end, and the company has already confirmed that it is not renewing the partnership. While the original agreement was negotiated with the Heat, arena naming rights are now the responsibility of Miami-Dade County, which in 2018 exercised an option to take over negotiations in exchange for paying the Heat $2 million annually beginning in 2020 to make up for the loss of naming-rights revenue.
Any naming-rights agreement will require approval from the Miami-Dade County Commission, which held its final meeting of 2019 on Tuesday without being presented a new deal. The county will continue working in 2020 to finalize the search for a new naming-rights partner, while proceeding with the $2 million payment to the Heat, which will be made over quarterly installments. Despite the lapse between naming-rights deals, the county believes that it will come out ahead financially once a new agreement is secured. More from the Miami Herald:
The administration of Mayor Carlos Gimenez officially ran out of time Tuesday to have a new naming agreement approved by the County Commission before 2020, when American’s deal ends and Miami-Dade takes over sponsorship responsibility from the Heat. The first $500,000 quarterly payment to the Heat is due March 31, covering the first three months of the year.
Gimenez said Tuesday he’s confident the lapse in sponsorship deals won’t end up costing Miami-Dade anything, since higher fees from the new deal will make up for what the county would have earned in early 2020 under the existing payment structure with American. A county consultant last year said a new deal would be worth at least triple what American pays.
“I’m not concerned,” Gimenez said. “We always said we might have to carry it for a while. But I’m confident we’re going to more than make up for it.”
A new sponsor requires commission approval, and the board concluded its final meeting of 2019 on Tuesday without an agreement in place. For now, it’s unclear what the current “AA Arena” will be called on Jan. 1 after the expiration of the American deal, in place since the facility opened in 1999.
Miami-Dade County has traditionally paid about $5.5 million annually in subsidies from hotel taxes for arena operations, and is seeking to collect more revenue from the venue by taking over naming rights. It is hoping to collect more in annual revenue than what the current naming-rights agreement yields. The original naming-rights agreement was struck with American Airlines prior to the venue’s opening in 1999, calling for a roughly $2.1 million annual payment as part of a 20-year sponsorship.
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