One after the other, Miami-Dade Commissioners who voted in favor of a new agreement with the Miami Heat owners for the operation and maintenance of the AmericanAirlines Arena downtown said it was better than the last deal they heard about.
It’s become like that other mantra: “It’s better than the Marlins deal.”
Nevermind that the 400+page-agreement seems rushed, since the current contract doesn’t expire until 2030 — that’s 16 years. Nevermind that the deal costs the county somewhere around $42 million, at least, over the course of the next 25 years. Nevermind that the county could potentially be losing out on tens of millions, maybe hundreds of millions, since the Miami Heat are on the cusp of being extremely profitable and would likely have to start forking over more profit sharing dollars. Nevermind that there are questions about future naming rights and a failure to secure any kind of participation rent, which could be very lucrative. Nevermind that the mayor could have possibly negotiated a better deal through a second round.
Commissioners took the easy route and passed this bone of an agreement because it was oh, so much better than what they had now. Only Commissioners Xavier “Mayor Sir” Suarez, a constant thorn in the mayor’s side,and Lynda Bell, the only incumbent facing a real challenge,voted against it.
“In one year, we’ll see nearly four times the compensation that we did during the entire life of the current contract,” Mayor Carlos Gimenez told commissioners, comparing the new annual $1 million payment to parks to the measly $250,000 profit sharing check they got last year, the first in the 14 years since the arena was built in 1997.
Well, whose fault is that?
The new deal was also so much better than the previously floated “deal,” a pie-in-the-sky scenario that nobody genuinely expected but which Ladra suspects was falsely painted precisely for a bait and switch strategy. After that first ludicrous deal was leaked to the news media — conveniently through an email written by the client of the mayor’s best friend and most influential lobbyist — the stadium-obsessed Gimenez said, “Oh, no, no, noooo. We never meant to give them $121 million. We only meant to give them $42 million.” And commissioners can say “Whew! We missed a close one! It could have been worse.”
When, actually, it could have been much, much better.
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