From what we’re hearing, it sure sounds as if the Miami Heat basketball franchise may deserve a technical foul for “unsportsmanlike conduct.” While we love the team, we have to wonder about their deal with Miami-Dade County.
A resolution by County Commissioner Juan C. Zapata has called attention to what seems a bad deal involving Parcel B, which is a large chunk of county-owned land right next to the American Airlines Arena. The Heat rents that space to use for valet parking and other purposes for games and special events the team holds there.
The problem is, that area was supposed to become a waterfront park. When the matter of the arena was put to the voters in 1996, that was the proposed plan. Some designs suggested parking at the first level with a green space park open to the public right above that. That never happened.
As part of the deal with the Miami Heat, the franchise reportedly has paid the county $786,345 in rent for Parcel B over the past 10 years. The county has spent $6.6 million maintaining the property. Since the Heat makes money from the valet parking and other uses, many are now calling for an increase in rent for that space so the taxpayers don’t get stuck with the costs…again.
Naturally, the Heat and their lawyers/lobbyists don’t want a rent increase. That’s understandable. But why should the taxpayers of Miami-Dade County have to subsidize a profitable sports franchise? The problem with Parcel B has been going on for years now and I have to wonder why? The deal with the Heat may have been well-intentioned initially, and may have even seemed like a good idea at the time. Now with all of the concern about county expenses, when it’s a fight to keep public libraries open and enough police and fire fighters working, why should we be subsidizing a sports franchise?
Isn’t it time that the Heat paid a more reasonable amount of the cost of maintaining the property they use and profit from? Doesn’t that seem fair?