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Miami Heat steamed: Arena won’t be used as early voting site

Miami-Dade County Mayor offers reason why AAA wasn’t chosen

American Airlines Arena where the Miami Heat basketball team plays.
American Airlines Arena where the Miami Heat basketball team plays. (WPLG)

MIAMI, Fla. – The Miami Heat wanted to join other NBA teams around the country to use the American Airlines Arena as a voting location for the community, but it was Miami-Dade County that had the final say.

The Heat issued a statement Friday after being informed that AAA would not be a designated polling place. Instead, the Frost Science Museum will be the election site instead of the usual Adrienne Arsht Center in Miami, which is not available. That was when the Heat thought it was a no brainer since the arena and the Arsht are in such close proximity.

“To say we are disappointed is a huge understatement,” the Heat statement said.

The County had the final say because the arena is not a team-owned facility, like many other NBA facilities, but rather the property of Miami-Dade County, the County’s deputy supervisor told Local 10.

Miami Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez said that the Frost Museum of Science was selected as an early voting location because of “accessibility and experience with early voting” and that he fully “supported the choice.”

He cited the accessibility as the area free Metromover stop and transfers from free bus services already being provided by the county.

“I appreciate the Miami Heat’s offer to have the arena, which is walking distance from the museum, serve as an early voting site. However, Miami-Dade County decided to move forward with our original choice, as it is a more convenient site that’s best suited for early voting, with both free public access to thousands who live near downtown and a long-standing relationship with the County on holding free and fair elections,” Gimenez said.

“Also, the arena would not be able to serve as an election site in future years based on the NBA’s schedule. Our decision was based on the best location to serve all County voters.”

Back on July 25, Miami Heat Head Coach Erik Spoelstra talked about the possibility of using the American Airlines Arena as a polling site.

“We’re pushing for it, really. The ball is in their court right now. We want to make it happen,” Spoelstra said.

On Juneteenth, the basketball league and player’s association released a statement saying they would agree to resume playoffs but outlined several commitments. One of those was using team owned arenas for voting.

Suzie Trutie, the deputy supervisor of elections for Miami-Dade County, said in a statement when the request was made: “The Elections Department has traditionally used the Adrienne Arsht Center as an early voting site. The Arsht is not available this election. [The Arsht, also a county facility, is undergoing construction.] The Elections Department has visited other facilities in the area and will make a decision soon.”

The Miami Heat statement said that the decision “was made made and delivered without further explanation. NBA arenas all over the country, including just up the road in Orlando are getting approved as polling sites with little to no pushback.”

Spoelstra said about the decision, “I will promise you this, this is not going to stop us. We will get involved one way or another.”

(See Miami-Dade County’s Polling Places, including sites for Early Election)


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