American Airlines Not Pursuing Renewal Of Heat Arena Deal
American Airlines is "no longer pursuing a renewal" of its naming-rights deal for the Heat's arena, according to Hanks & Dolven of the MIAMI HERALD. The airline, which has sponsored the arena since it opened in '99, had told the administration of Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez last year it "hoped to remain the sponsor." However, AA Communications Manager Alexis Coello said, "We are not seeking to renew naming rights for the arena, but remain the official airline of the Miami Heat." A new name would mean "significant changes for the home of the Heat, which has a massive airplane silhouette on its roof and American’s brand near center court." The pending sponsorship switch is the "long-term result of changes to Miami-Dade’s deal with the Heat for the tax-funded arena." Part of the original funding package gave the Heat "rights to control the sponsorship and sell the name of the arena." Miami-Dade "opted last fall to exercise its right to take over the naming rights and negotiate a new sponsorship arrangement." The county agreement "requires the Heat to put a new sponsor’s name at center court and use it in certain materials, but does not require contributing arena seats or other perks that can boost the value." If the final sponsorship deal is worth more than $2M, that will "end up meaning more revenue for Miami-Dade." But if the county "can’t land a sponsor by Jan. 1, it’s required to pay" the Heat $2M in sponsorship revenue (MIAMI HERALD, 9/11).
IN THE WORKS: Miami-Dade Deputy Mayor Ed Marquez said that while nothing is official yet, "at least one 'nationally renowned company' is in advanced talks" to take over naming-rights for the arena. Marquez said that company has "toured the site and are in discussions with the Heat." The county in '97 sold the 20-year naming rights to the air carrier for $42M starting Dec. 31, 1999 (MIAMITODAYNEWS.com, 9/10).