Miami union employees are as excited as any for the home debut of the Miami Heat, but for far different reasons.
More than 3,000 disgruntled workers, who are in a contentious fight with city officials, plan to use Friday's game versus the Orlando as a platform to air the city's dirty laundry instead of praising the basketball team.
"The city has lied to us," said Police Union head Armando Aguilar said. "We want to get the most exposure that we can to put our problems out in the street."
Police and other government employees have been steaming ever sense the City Commission voted to cut salaries, pensions and jobs to balance the budget for this fiscal year.
The Police Union has even filed a lawsuit against its bosses, but Friday's public protest didn't materialize until after the city released ambitious plans to throw a huge party for Dwyane Wade, LeBron James and Chris Bosh.
Union heads said if the city has money to spend on a celebration of players who make millions of dollars, then they should have money to save jobs and salaries.
The Heat game tips off at 7:30 p.m., but the heat will really be on outside the AmericanAirlines Arena.
City officials were hoping to use the Miami Heat as a springboard for economic development and the enhanced media coverage would be free advertising for tourism. The numbers suggest banking on the Heat would be a shrewd move by the city.
The team's first game against the Boston Celtics was the most watched NBA regular season game ever.
People tuning in Friday might not get the view of Miami city officials want, warns police union officials. They said they are going to expose the ugly side of Miami, one that might not be too safe for tourists.
"Miami can become a more dangerous place," Aguilar said. "If you want to blame anyone for this, don't blame the city employees. Blame the city officials who caused this problem to begin with."