The Real Deal Miami

Heat owner Arison has yet to repay county for arena subsidies

January 09, 2012 04:30PM

From left: Miami Heat owner Micky Arison and the American Airlines Arena

When Miami Heat owner Micky Arison struck a deal with Miami-Dade County to build the $213 million American Airlines Arena in 1997, he was supposed to return 40 percent of all profits beyond $14 million to the county. It was deemed a fair exchange for the $38 million worth of land and the $6.4 million annual subsidy (through 2027) he received for the new stadium.

But according to the Miami New Times, Arison has yet to return a single penny to the county – even after the arrival of LeBron James and Chris Bosh propelled the Heat to the NBA finals and the arena to a record $60 million in revenue last year.

That’s because Arison reported expenses of $47.8 million at the arena, $12 million of which came from “depreciation and amortization.” Even though revenues rose $15 million in 2011, team profits still couldn’t surpass the $14 million threshold.

The New Times speculates that Arison is using accounting tricks to ensure that profits don’t exceed $14 million, and he never has to share any of his winnings with the taxpayers that built his arena. [Miami New Times]