The AmericanAirlines Arena (AAA) is the largest sports and entertainment venue in Downtown Miami, Florida. Construction began in February of 1998, and not even two years later AAA opened on December 31, 1999. The venue replaced the old and outdated Miami Arena and was constructed at a cost of $213 million.
AmericanAirlines Arena fits the lifestyle and ambiance of South Florida perfectly. The arena was designed to show off both city and bay views from all concourses, to go along with public terraces and balconies which also come off of each concourse. The concept of the arena designers was to incorporate the city and the bay into the arena, and this is achieved with artistic exterior lighting and a design which emphasizes the fact you are living life in the tropical outdoors. That is why this arena also features an outdoor café and bar on a landscaped terrace.
The most striking unique feature of AmericanAirlines Arena is undoubtedly the trademark scoreboard which hangs in the center. Designed by Boston artist Christopher Janney, the $5 million dollar conversation piece is named Medusa and is supposed to resemble ocean life such as a sea anemone with its tentacle-like appearance. Only in Miami would something as simple as a scoreboard be designed in such a way to become an arena feature.
AmericanAirlines Arena can seat 19,600 for basketball games, and the arena is designed to get fans up close and personal with the players. This is especially true for fans in the lower section of the arena, where the seating arrangement has been designed with a steeper pitch than you find in most arenas. This works out well for both the fans, who feel closer to the action, and the players who get to experience a more intimate crowd setting to boost their performance levels.
Another unique feature of the AAA is that the main basketball court is not the only arena venue within the facility. There is a second, smaller theater which seats between 3,000 and 5,800 audience members and which is used for concerts, plays and musicals. This smaller venue gives the AAA the ability to host events on more nights, and bring in more revenue, than other arenas in the country.
American Airlines has not been shy about its sponsorship deal with the arena. The company had a giant airplane painted on top of the arenas roof when it opened which is visible to anyone taking off and landing at Miami International Airport. The high end, luxury skyboxes at AmericanAirlines Arena are known as Flagship Lounges, a trademark used by American at their hub airports. While many lead sponsors at arenas try to put their stamp on the building in unique and innovative ways, few have been as successful as American Airlines have in Miami and it is almost impossible to think of the facility being under any other corporate entity.
This sponsorship reached an interesting level in both 2006 and 2011 when the NBA Finals matchups saw the Heat facing the Dallas Mavericks. The Mavericks also have American Airlines as their main sponsor and thus the series came to be known as the “American Airlines Series”.