Sports are going through a television rights boom, and it's high time basketball's most controversial franchise cashed in. According to Forbes, the Miami Heat are renegotiating their contract with Fox Sports Florida, to the tune of between $80 million and $100 million.
Whoa. That is not, an unimpressive number. Considering that the entirety of national hockey rights are worth roughly twice that amount, and that the big market Golden State Warriors "only" get around $25 million for television rights, Miami owner Micky Arison seems to be making out quite well here.
The question is, does such a move ensure "elite" status for this organization. I see two obstacles. The first one is the NBA itself, and the newly restrictive Collective Bargaining Agreement. Stern's league is trying to harshly penalize the outspending of competition. In a few years, I suspect we'll not see teams go $30 million over the cap, as the Lakers are want to do.
The other obstacle are Micky Arison's finances. According to Forbes (again!), half a billion dollars was vacuumed out of Arison's accounts, because a Carnival Cruise ship (Arison's company) tragically ran aground. The new influx of local TV cash will certainly help the already rich owner, but I doubt he's feeling deep pocketed after this year.
What the TV deal does mean is that the Heat are a marquee franchise in the present. Fresh off making two NBA Finals, they are certainly elite status in the league. The Decision, combined with a renowned nightlife, has made small market Miami seem as big market as it gets.