Opened on New Year's Eve 1999, the American Airlines Arena is located in downtown Miami, Florida along Biscayne Bay. Primarily a venue for basketball and concerts, the arena replaced the old Miami Arena, which was eventually demolished in late 2008.
Known to locals as AAA or A-cubed, American Airlines Arena was designed by architectural firms Arquitectonica and 360 Architecture and cost approximately $213 million to build. It is owned by the Miami Sports and Entertainment Authority and is operated by Leisure Management International.
For sporting events such as basketball games, the arena can accommodate up to 19,600 patrons. Also, the arena can be configured in four different ways for concerts - capacity is 12,202 for 180-degree shows; 15,402 for 270-degree shows; 18,309 for 360-degree shows; and 19,146 for concerts where the stage is placed in the center. The centerpiece of the arena is an unusual $5 million scoreboard that hangs in the center. Designed by Boston artist Christopher Janney, its nickname is "Medusa'' because of its tentacle-like appearance.
The main arena space is not the only venue area in the facility. The Waterfront Theater is a smaller theater within the arena that accommodates 3,000 to 5,800 audience members. As one of Florida's largest theaters, it is used for concerts, plays, and Broadway-style musicals.
The primary tenant of American Airlines Arena is the NBA-franchise Miami Heat. The Heat, which formerly played at the Miami Arena, has played at this arena since its opening. The Miami Sol, part of the Women's National Basketball Association, also played at American Airlines Arena before the league folded in 2002.
Since it's opening, American Airlines Arena has also hosted numerous rock concerts and World Wrestling Entertainment "Rumbles'', and was the location for the MTV Video Music Awards in 2004 and 2005. Several NCAA championship games have also been held at this Miami venue.
As the sponsor for the arena, American Airlines has endeavored to put its mark on the venue. When the structure was built, a giant aircraft was painted on top of the arena's roof and is visible by airplanes arriving and departing from nearby Miami International Airport. (The Miami airport is a hub for American Airlines.) The airline also dubbed the venue's luxury skyboxes "Flagship Lounges,'' named for their premium lounges located in airports around the country.
Food service is extensive at American Airlines Arena. Patrons in the luxury suites and clubhouse areas can take advantage of a full range of menu items from around the world. Menus also include an extensive wine list and a selection of premium liqueurs. For those in the non-premium seats, there are 14 general concessions and 28 portable carts offering a wide variety of choices, including deli sandwiches, pizza, hot dogs, and Mexican specialties. Beer is available throughout the arena as well.
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