Following a nearly week-long strike over racial injustice and police brutality, NBA players returned to the court last Saturday after teams pledged to make their own arenas voting sites for the upcoming election. The Miami Heat were under the impression they would fulfill that pledge until Friday night, when Miami-Dade officials rejected the team's bid to make the American Airlines Arena a voting site.
In a statement, the team said they were led to believe an agreement would be made with the county. Heat executives had been discussing the possibility and touring the arena with county officials for months. Instead, Miami-Dade's Department of Elections decided to designate the neighboring Frost Science Museum as a polling place.
"To say we are disappointed is a huge understatement," the Heat said in a statement. "The Arena is clearly a better site, with more visibility, more space, and more parking."
According to Miami-Dade County mayor Carlos Gimenez, the museum was chosen over the arena due to its accessibility.
Gimenez pointed to the museum's free Metromover stop, as well as its experience in hosting early voting in its old Coconut Grove location.
"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 in a statement.
Officials say the Adrienne Arsht Center was originally considered as a designated voting site until the building went under some construction.
The Heat's statement went on to voice the team's frustration with the county's decision, saying it "was 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. We were under the impression that approval was imminent."