The American Airlines Arena has 2,105 club seats, 80 luxury suites, and 76 private boxes. The Waterfront Theater is Florida's largest theater which is housed within the arena, that can seat between 3,000 and 5,800. The theater can be configured for concerts, family events, musical theatre and other stage shows. American Airlines which has a hub at Miami International Airport maintains the American Airlines Arena Travel Center at the venue.
The American Airlines Arena opened on December 31, 1999 and its construction cost was $213 million. Architectural design team members included George Heinlein, Cristian Petschen, Reinaldo Borges, and Lance Simon. The American Airlines Arena was inaugurated with a concert by Gloria Estefan. Three days later, on January 3, 2000, the Miami Heat played its first game in the new arena by defeating the Orlando Magic 111–103.
The main façade of the arena at night
As part of its sponsorship arrangement, American Airlines had a giant aircraft painted atop the arena's roof, with an American Airlines logo in the center. The design is visible from airplanes taking off and landing at Miami International Airport, where American has a hub. The arena also has luxury skyboxes called "Flagship Lounges", a trademark originally used for American's premium-class lounges at certain airports.
Local sportscasters often refer to the arena as the "triple-A". Some sports reporters on the local news stations such as WSVN have referred to the arena as "A3" (A cubed). The arena is known for its unusual scoreboard, designed by Artist Christopher Janney. Drawing on the underwater anemone forms, the scoreboard also changes colors depending on the atmosphere. For concerts in an arena configuration, end stage capacity is 12,202 for 180° shows, 15,402 for 270° shows, 18,309 for 360° shows. For center stage concerts the arena can seat 19,146.
The Miami Heat has not had to pay to use the $357-million venue, which sits on $38 million of county land; the county has paid $64 million in operating subsidies. "It was never a good deal," says former Miami-Dade Commissioner Katy Sorenson, who opposed the new arena in 1996. "There are certain politicians who just get stars in their eyes and don't really think about what the real cost is going to be."
WTVJ, the city's NBC owned-and-operated station in Miami, had their Downtown Miami Studios in the back of the arena from 2001 till 2011.
Despite American Airlines' logo change, American Airlines Arena still uses the airline's old logo.
Traffic congestion after events can cause delays for those who choose to drive to the arena. Visitors to the American Airlines Arena are encouraged to take Metrorail, Metromover, or Metrobus, as parking can be scarce and expensive. Metromover's Freedom Tower station is located two blocks west of the arena. The nearest Metrorail stations are Government Center and Historic Overtown. The Metromover is free to ride and connects to Metrorail at Government Center station.
American Airlines Arena features 939 parking spaces during HEAT Games. On-site parking is reserved for Premium seat and Dewar's 12 Clubhouse ticket holders. On-site parking spaces must be pre-purchased through the Arena's Official Parking Provider, ParkJockey.
The American Airlines Arena along with the American Airlines Center in Dallas, Texas, hosted the 2006 NBA Finals and the 2011 NBA Finals. The Miami Heat played the Dallas Mavericks. The Heat won the championship in 2006 in Dallas and the Mavericks won in the 2011 rematch in Miami. These series were the first and second appearances in the NBA Finals for both franchises. As the airline held the naming rights to both venues, people nicknamed the matchups as the "American Airlines series".
On March 28, 2004, Britney Spears performed to a sold out show as part of The Onyx Hotel Tour. The show was broadcast live over the world. She performed as part of her The Circus Starring Britney Spears Tour at the arena on March 7, 2009 and set an attendance record with a sold-out crowd of 18,644, beating out Celine Dion who previously gathered a 17,725 crowd. It is noted as the largest concert attendance in the arena's history as of 2009[update].
U2 brought their award-winning Vertigo Tour to Miami on November 13 and 14, 2005.
Shakira performed in the arena as part of her Tour of the Mongoose for the first time on December 2, 2002. 4 years later, she performed in the arena on September 15 and 16, 2006 as part of her Oral Fixation Tour and returned for 3 more shows (December 7, 8 & 9, 2016), where the DVD footage of the concert was filmed. With 5 shows together, this makes the Colombian signer obtaining the most sold-out shows in the arena as a female artist. She brought her The Sun Comes Out World Tour to the arena again on September 27, 2010. 7 years later, she returned to the arena with El Dorado World Tour on August 17 and 18, 2018.
Celine Dion performed her Taking Chances Tour at the arena on January 23, 2009 and set an attendance record making it the largest crowd in the arena's history.
The cast of Mexican hit TV series Two Faces of Love beat out Britney Spears selling out a crowd of 18,693 making this the largest concert attendance in the arena's history, as of 2010[update].
Lady Gaga performed here for The Monster Ball Tour to a sold-out crowd of 14,695 on April 13, 2011 and was scheduled return as part of her Born This Way Ball Tour on March 16, 2013, but cancelled, not only this show but the entire rest of the tour, due to a hip injury.
Kanye West performed here during his Saint Pablo Tour on September 16–17, 2016.
Australian worship band Hillsong United recorded a 2-hour long live CD/DVD set, entitled Hillsong United: Live in Miami, which was released in August 2011, which was filmed, recorded and played at the arena in front of a sold out audience.
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