The AmericanAirlines Arena is a sports and entertainment arena located in Downtown Miami, Florida along Biscayne Bay. It was constructed beginning in 1998 as a replacement for the Miami Arena and was designed by the architecture firms Arquitectonica and 360 Architecture. The Arena is home to the Miami Heat of the National Basketball Association. In the early 2000s, the Women's National Basketball Association team Miami Sol played at the arena from the team's birth in 2000 until the team's folding in 2002. The AmericanAirlines Arena is directly served by the Miami Metrorail at Government Center station via free transfers to Metromover Omni Loop, providing direct service to Freedom Tower and Park West stations. The Arena is also within walking distance from the Historic Overtown/Lyric Theatre Metrorail station.
The AmericanAirlines Arena has 2,105 club seats, 80 luxury suites, and 76 private boxes. The Waterfront Theater is Florida's largest theater which is housed within the arena, that can seat between 3,000 and 5,800. The theater can be configured for concerts, family events, musical theatre and other stage shows. American Airlines maintains the American Airlines Arena Travel Center at the venue.
The airline also holds the naming rights for another NBA venue, the American Airlines Center for the Dallas Mavericks, which opened in 2002. American Airlines Center should not be confused with AmericanAirlines Arena as the latter spelling is distinct as in "American" and "Airlines" being considered one word.
The AmericanAirlines Arena opened on December 31, 1999 and its construction cost was $213,000,000. Architectural design team members included George Heinlein, Cristian Petschen, Reinaldo Borges, and Lance Simon. The AmericanAirlines Arena was inaugurated with a concert by Gloria Estefan. Two days later, on January 2, 2000, the Miami Heat played its first game in the new arena by defeating the Orlando Magic 111–103. As part of its sponsorship arrangement, American Airlines had a giant aircraft painted on top of the arena's roof, with an American Airlines logo in the center. The design is visible from airplanes taking off and landing at Miami International Airport, where American has a hub. The arena also has luxury skyboxes called "Flagship Lounges," a trademark originally used for American's premium-class lounges at certain airports. Local sportscasters often refer to the arena as the "triple-A". Some sports reporters on the local news stations such as WSVN have referred to the arena as "A3" (A cubed). The arena is known for its unusual scoreboard, designed by Artist Christopher Janney. Drawing on the underwater anemone forms, the scoreboard also changes colors depending on the atmosphere. For concerts in an arena configuration, end stage capacity is 12,202 for 180-degree shows, 15,402 for 270-degree shows, 18,309 for 360-degree shows. For center stage concerts the arena can seat 19,146.
Traffic congestion after events can cause delays for those who choose to drive to the arena. Visitors to the American Airlines Arena are encouraged to take the Miami Metrorail or Metrobus, as parking can be scarce and expensive. The nearest Metrorail stations are Government Center and Historic Overtown. Additionally, the Metromover provides free transportation throughout Downtown Miami and Brickell.