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AmericanAirlines Arena

Miami, FL

Home of the Miami Heat

4.1

4.2

AmericanAirlines Arena (map it)
601 Biscayne Boulevard
Miami, FL 33132


Miami Heat website

AmericanAirlines Arena website

Year Opened: 1999

Capacity: 19,600

There are no tickets available at this time.

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Nine Magic Words

"I'm going to take my talents to South Beach."

Never before in sports history have nine words had such a profound effect on a franchise. On July 8, 2010, in front of a national television audience, free-agent phenom LeBron James uttered those nine life-changing words. He instantly became the most polarizing force in all of sport, and changed the perception of the Miami Heat forever.

The Heat are not a franchise that have been around that long. An expansion team in 1988 along with the former Charlotte Hornets, the Heat have seen success in their limited time in the NBA. Currently owned by heir to the Carnival Cruise Line empire, Micky Arison, the Heat have always been driven by star power, and have a 2006 NBA Champion banner to show for their efforts.

Success with the Heat has always been linked with the amount of star power, and if you think about it, the Heat fits Miami's personality: glitzy, showy, glamorous - all about the optics. Star power has shown itself in many ways, whether it was bringing in a flashy coach or executive like Pat Riley, growing their own star like Dwayne Wade, making a big trade for a star like Shaquille O'Neal, or a big glitzy, fog machine enhanced free-agent signing like Chris Bosh and LeBron James. The Heat fit Miami like a custom-made glove.

The Heat show off their glitz and glamor at the AmericanAirlines Arena, or Triple- A to the locals. Opening in 1999, the AAA is fairly unique in that it only houses an NBA team while the local NHL team, the Florida Panthers, play in a different venue all together. (Other similar situations include the Detroit Red Wings and Detroit Pistons; Minnesota Wild and Minnesota Timberwolves; and Phoenix Suns and Phoenix Coyotes). Although this is not typically a great recipe for success for either the teams or the counties that usually own the buildings, the Heat have continued in this fashion, and would arguably be more of a financial success than their cross-county hockey brothers. The Triple-A is owned by a local board known as the Miami Sports and Entertainment Authority, and do not charge the Heat to use the building.

4.1

What is FANFARE?

The FANFARE scale is our metric device for rating each stadium experience. It covers the following:

  • Food & Beverage
  • Atmosphere
  • Neighborhood
  • Fans
  • Access
  • Return on Investment
  • Extras

Each area is rated from 0 to 5 stars with 5 being the best. The overall composite score is the "FANFARE Score".

Food & Beverage    4

The selection of food available at the Heat game is vast and pricey. Hot dogs run $7, a bottomless Pepsi runs $8, draft beer runs $8 and imported runs $10, and Papa Johns Pizza runs $9.50. There is a rather large Bacardi presence at the AAA, and their beverages run $12. The variety is even larger on the main floor than the upper concourse. You will most definitely find something to please you at the Heat game - but you will pay for it, and that keeps the mark one shot off of perfect.

Atmosphere    4

For us, the Miami Heat got off on the wrong foot right away. By opening the doors only one hour prior to tip-off, not only was there a substantial group waiting on the doorsteps to get in, but once inside, there was a mad rush to get in the Heat team store on the main floor. It was insanely crowded, and could have easily been alleviated by opening the doors earlier and thinning out the crowd as they entered. Another thing that surprised me was the number of stairs getting to the arena. In an area of the country synonymous with retirement age people, I would have figured easier access in the building.

Outside the building on Biscayne Boulevard, the Heat Street Band will come out and entertain the crowd. It was unfortunate they didn't come out earlier, before the doors were open. This small brass band added needed atmosphere, and eventually they make their way in, and perform at center-court.

That being said, once inside, the Heat have done a great job in the decorating department. There are 3 concourse levels to the AmericanAirlines Arena. The main concourse level is decorated with reds and oranges, and is generally dark, save for the striking neon lights.

Once inside the seating bowl you will notice the stark contrast in the arena. The outer walls and ceiling is a very dark black. The seats are reds and oranges. This is a bit of a dangerous combo. It can easily look dark and dingy if not sufficiently populated, however at this moment-in-time, its not an issue for the Heat.

Hung from the ceiling are the eight Division Champion banners, two Conference Champion banners, and 2006 & 2012 NBA Championship banners. There are also banners that honor players. Alonzo Mourning's 33 and Tim Hardaway's 10 are retied. There are also three banners honoring players who have represented the USA at the Olympics and a banner honoring trainer Ron Culp. Way up on the back wall there is also a curious banner honoring Michael Jordan's 23, even though he never played a game for the Heat.

Apparently, the Heat have also retired Dan Marino's number 13. Also, hung from the ceiling is possibly the most unique scoreboard in all of sports. The heat/sun motif is definitely caught in this unique convergence of art and score clock. Check out the picture as words don't adequately describe it.

The in-game production is quite something. In the pre-game there is the expected introduction which is accompanied by a giant flame-filled entrance. The public announcer is excellent and has a way of pumping up the crowd in a very subtle way. In a tip of the hat to the large Latino community in South Florida, the announcer let's you know when there are "dos minutos" left in the quarter.

Neighborhood    5

The AmericanAirlines Arena is located right on Biscayne Bay. From there, you can see where the big cruise ships dock, and not only are there great things to do around the Arena, there are numerous great spots to get something to eat or drink before or after the game.

This is a great spot to be if you are on vacation. If you have the kids with you, you will probably want to get to Jungle Island and the Miami Children's Museum just across the bay on the nearest island. Just north of the AmericanAirlines Arena is Bicentennial Park, which is a large urban green space. Just south of the arena is Bayside Marketplace. There, you can head down to the marina and rent a boat yourself, or do some fishing on a charter, or perhaps take a water-based tour of some of the largest mansions in South Beach. The Island Queen will get you around there.

Bayside Marketplace also offers numerous places to eat and drink. There are some chains, like Hooters, Chili's, The Hard Rock Cafe, and The Bubba Gump Shrimp Company; as well as some more unique local places including Largo Seafood & Grill, Los Ranchos, and Tradewinds Bar and Grill. You can't go wrong here and if you are a regular, there is enough variety to keep you interested for years!

Fans    5

Sports fans in South Florida have a reputation for being fair-weather. If the team is winning, then they will show up; if not, they won't. At this point of great success for the Heat, the fans are showing up in droves, as evidenced by currently sitting at fourth in the NBA in attendance, and averaging over 19,000 fans. In previous years, including low years on the court, attendance has fallen to the middle of the NBA pack, which was better than I expected. The fans that attend are a much more lively bunch than I expected as well. They definitely appreciate the star power that they are seeing, and give huge ovations when LeBron James puts down a big dunk, or Dwayne Wade hits a key 3-pointer. Exceeding expectations, and the current challenges in procuring tickets, give the Miami Heat fans a perfect score for now.

Access    4

Located on Biscayne Blvd., the AAA is neatly located near the MacArthur Causeway and both Interstates 395 and 95. It is in downtown Miami, but getting there is pretty easy. There are numerous surface lots around the Arena and downtown where a spot can be found for an average price, not too far from the AAA. If you are interested in using the public transit system, there is a Miami Metrorail station just across the road from the AAA. Organization downtown for the post-game exodus was not greatly organized and offered an above-average amount of time in getting out and on your way.

The concourses offer plenty of room for maneuvering before, during, and after the game, and the washroom facilities are more than adequate.

Return on Investment    3

Heat tickets run from a low of $10 to a high for some games of over $600. Although the $10 sounds pretty good, I'm not sure where they are (possibly 400 level standing room), and the next price point is $60. The current state of the Heat leave ticket availability at a premium, so the secondary market may be your best option, and not a cheap option either. Combine ticket prices with high concession prices and parking, and you have a significant investment for the evening. The Heat does what it can to give you sufficient return, but the investment is very high. You'll have a good time at the Heat game, but you will also cough and choke a bit while you pay for it.

Extras    4

An extra point for the phenomenal neighborhood around the Arena. With so much to do, see and eat, you easily spend from sun up to sun down around the AmericanAirlines Arena.

An extra point for the ability to star gaze. If you have your binoculars, you may catch a celebrity in the front row. On the date of this review, Lil' Wayne was in the house.

An extra point for extremely unique scoreboard at center court.

An extra point for the courteous ushers. The usher in our section went out of her way to give my 8 year-old daughter a t-shirt because of her enthusiasm, dancing, and overall cuteness.

Final Thoughts

A Miami Heat game is surely an event. More than your average NBA game, the Heat brings its star power out for you to see and enjoy. On your sporting bucket list should be a trip to see the Miami Heat in its current form. The "Big 3" bring a sizzle to the Heat that may only be compared to that of the Los Angeles Lakers. If you are a traveller, make sure you get to Miami early, and plan to leave late as there is lots to see and do with the culminating activity of the evening being the Miami Heat game itself. Check it out, before those nine magic words fade into obscurity and we are left pondering what might have been, or what a great run it was.

Anyone out there with season tickets, or plans to see the Heat in their new arena? Can\'t wait to he

Anyone out there with season tickets, or plans to see the Heat in their new arena? Can't wait to hear reports of the energy in the home court when the big 3 begin regular season play...

by paul | Oct 13, 2010 01:13 AM

champions

That best!!! Enough said

by biggdex | Feb 27, 2012 04:48 PM

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Crowd Reviews

When Seeing the Heat, Eats are the Treat

Total Score: 4.14

  • Food & Beverage: 5
  • Atmosphere 4
  • Neighborhood: 5
  • Fans: 3
  • Access: 4
  • RoI: 4
  • Extras: 4

American Airlines Arena features 14 general concessions and 28 portable carts. There is no shortage of variety either. The concessions feature all the arena classics, but it's the portable carts that offer an exceptionally wide variety. There's stir fry, Latin and Mexican, sandwiches, arepas, tacos, kebabs, sushi, cinnamon buns, frozen lemonade, and fresh baked cookies among others. The concession prices are standard, but the specialty items are a bit costly- $12-$15 a plate. Overall, food pricing is average if you are looking for something simple, but are high if you're looking for something more.

A Near Perfect NBA Experience

Total Score: 4.57

  • Food & Beverage: 4
  • Atmosphere 5
  • Neighborhood: 5
  • Fans: 5
  • Access: 5
  • RoI: 4
  • Extras: 4

This review is NOT biased. American Airlines Arena is arguably the best stadium I have EVER been to. The Atmosphere was incredible, though the fact the game went into double overtime contributed a lot. Biscayne Bay is located right aganist the arena, so it is a absolutely gorgeous setting. The best part, though, was the FANS. From the Starting introduction, they were into the game the whole time, despite that Heat fans have a bad reputation. Not only that, but the building has seen some history too (Game 6 of the 2013 NBA Finals happened here). The Heat lost to the Timberwolves in the game I went to. But no matter if it's a win or loss, it is a awesome experience.

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Local Food & Drink

Los Ranchos Steakhouse  (map it!)

401 Biscayne Blvd

Miami, FL 33132

(305) 375-8188

http://www.beststeakinmiami.com/

Bubba Gump Shrimp Co.  (map it!)

401 Biscayne Blvd

Miami, FL 33132

(305) 379-8866

http://www.bubbagump.com/locations/miami/

Hooters of Miami - Bayside  (map it!)

401 Biscayne Blvd

Miami, FL 33132

(305) 371-3004

http://www.hootersflorida.com/

Largo Seafood & Grill  (map it!)

401 Biscayne Blvd

Miami, FL 33132

(305) 374-9559

Hard Rock Cafe  (map it!)

401 Biscayne Blvd

Miami, FL 33132

(305) 377-3110

http://www.hardrock.com/locations/cafes3/cafe.aspx?LocationID=104&MIBEnumID=3

Tradewinds Waterfront Bar & Grill  (map it!)

401 Biscayne Blvd

Miami, FL 33132

(305) 416-6944

http://www.tradewindsbarandgrill.com/

Chili's Bayside Miami  (map it!)

401 Biscayne Blvd

Miami, FL 33132

(305) 373-0601

http://www.chilis.com/EN/Pages/locationsearch.aspx

Local Entertainment

Island Queen Cruises  (map it!)

401 Biscayne Blvd

Miami, FL 33132

(305) 379-5119

http://www.islandqueencruises.com/

Bayside Marketplace  (map it!)

401 Biscayne Blvd

Miami, FL 33132

(305) 577-3344

http://www.baysidemarketplace.com/

Miami Children's Museum  (map it!)

980 MacArthur Causeway

Miami, FL 33132

(305) 373-KIDS

http://www.miamichildrensmuseum.org/

Jungle Island  (map it!)

1111 Parrot Jungle Trl

Miami, FL 33132

(305) 400-7000

http://www.jungleisland.com/index.cfm

Lodging

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