How the Heat convinced Miami voters to support the building of AmericanAirlines Arena in 1996

Successful strategies for pitching an arena project to voters

Sports Business Daily 1/12/04

All of these dynamics point up the need for sports teams to turn to political professionals to run the elections they need to win to secure public financing for new arenas. In most circumstances, the opposition forces to building a new arena will not have the resources to wage a traditional campaign with television ads and the other tactics we used in the Miami Heat campaign. This is a big advantage that owners should fully exploit. For a relatively small investment (we spent $3.5 million to win the Miami campaign), you can run a political-style campaign that will drive the public debate on your referendum.

The bottom line is if you need to win public financing to build a new stadium, you should do these things: First, start early, plan ahead and use a political pro who understands the schizophrenic way voters think about issues and elections to run your campaign. Second, make the argument wider than a shiny new building for your team, no matter how popular you are. Third, don’t be afraid to set the terms of the debate yourself, instead of waiting for your opponents to corner you.

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