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Miami Heat brings Alonzo Mourning to county commission to push for extension of arena lease


Trophy 12 One PABFormer Miami Heat star Alonzo Mourning turned heads Tuesday when we walked into the Miami-Dade commission chambers, carrying the NBA's Larry O'Brien championship trophy.

Giddy commissioners applauded. Clerk of Courts Harvey Ruvin jumped up and gestured to the audience to join in a standing ovation. The crowd complied.

But the real reason for Mourning's visit wasn't to gloat about the Heat's victory. It was a thinly veiled push to publicly urge the county to extend the basketball team's lease at AmericanAirlines Arena.

"We look forward to 25 more celebratory years of success," Mourning said.

He didn't mention the lease. Instead, he played a video that touted the team's history in downtown Miami.

Miami-Dade provides a $6.4 million annual subsidy to the arena under the current deal, which runs through 2029. The payments were in exchange for the Heat building and financing the $360 million facility on county land. The agreement includes a profit-sharing formula that has yet to result in a dime for the county.

The Heat, capitalizing on the team's back-to-back championships, wants to extend the deal another 15 years -- and to receive more public money, citing renovations for the 13-year-old arena.

County administrators had said they were in no rush to renegotiate the deal. But commissioners on Tuesday encouraged Mayor Carlos Gimenez's administration to move quickly.

"We're committed to keeping the Heat here in the long term," Gimenez said. "Hopefully we can bring that to some kind of fruition."

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Photos by Peter Andrew Bosch, Miami Herald staff.