South Florida pro sports teams look for merchandise sales slot at Miami International Airport
By Ryan Kelly
South Florida sports teams are trying to open a merchandise store at Miami International Airport, an effort they've been pursuing for years.
The airport says plans are under way to open one for the Miami Heat basketball team but no date has been set.
The Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce's Sports Committee discussed this along with other priorities for this year, including promoting the sports industry more, educating children about sports careers and better informing the public on private-public partnerships, Friday at the Goals Conference.
The process to set up a sports store at the airport has been slow, said Kim Stone, executive vice president and general manager of The HEAT Group and AmericanAirlines Arena.
A committee member suggested contacting individual developers who control the existing retail space.
"Most of the space is in the hands of developers," said Ana Sotorrio, president at Aviation Strategies & Trade Solutions.
As an approach to opening the store, committee members discussed connecting its potential success to visitors coming to Miami for major sports events, such as the FIFA World Cup and Super Bowl, who would want to buy merchandise from local teams.
The airport appears to have plans to open a Miami Heat store in the North Terminal rotunda, said airport spokesman Marc Henderson in a later interview. But he said an exact date has yet to be set.
Aside from establishing a presence at Miami International, the committee voiced other goals, such as working with other committees to raise sports industry awareness, supporting more the existing teams and their venues and working with local partners to draw more sports visitors to South Florida.
Another proposal was to conduct an economic impact survey of regional sports organizations to show the contribution this industry makes to the local economy. Ms. Stone, the Sports Committee's chair, asked James R. Bussey, associate dean of the School of Business at St. Thomas University, if the university could spearhead the effort. He said the school would take part.
Another suggestion was to team up with the chamber's Education Committee to develop a program that introduces children to different facets of the sports industry, such as teaching them about the roles of sports agents and how stadium are built.
To bring more attention to the sports industry, one approach brought up at the meeting was educating the public about public-private partnerships in the sports industry.
For example, members might explore the economic impact a renovated football stadium could bring to the Miami-Dade community.
Without an upgraded stadium, "that's a lot of money in tourism that we lose," said Christian LaCapra, regional manager of corporate development for the Miami Dolphins football team in Miami-Dade.
The committee also plans to promote upcoming sports events, such as WWE's much-anticipated WrestleMania coming to Sun Life Stadium next year.
"It's a Super Bowl-like event." Mr. LaCapra said. "It's massive."
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