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CITY OF MIAMI LOOKING TO GET INTO THE ARENA BUSINESS
Published December 19, 1995
The city of Miami is talking about spending $10M to buy back control of the Miami Arena, according to the MIAMI HERALD. The rights to control operations and negotiate contracts belong Decoma Miami Associates, of which Panthers Owner Wayne Huizenga owns 60%. Huizenga also owns half of Leisure Management International, a Decoma-related company that handles day-today operations. Leisure Management is now negotiating with Heat Owner Micky Arison, who wants two more years in the arena with close to the same favorable terms he enjoys now. The Heat have said the team will move if they don't have a lease with new terms by the end of the '97-98 season. The Heat's requested terms include only a 10% increase in their rent to $600,000 per season. Leisure Management wants an estimated $3-5M more over the two- year extension. City officials figure by buying back control of the arena, they can give the Heat the lease they want, and ensure the team stays through 2000. This will also buy time for the city to build a new arena after the Heat's lease expires. City leaders admit the move is risky, because the Heat could still move after 2000 and the city would be left with an arena nobody wants to play in. Leisure Management President John Blaisdell said he is willing to talk to the city about selling the company's interest in the arena, but he said the city should insist on a long-term lease for the Heat before trying to buy. Blaisdell says the two-year extension only gives Arison more time to negotiate with other cities (Cavanaugh & Tanfani, MIAMI HERALD, 12/18).