The Miami Heat’s highly-anticipated home opener against the Orlando Magic at AmericanAirlines Arena on Friday is expected to have a little bit of everything. As a result, the team is encouraging fans to arrive early to avoid traffic and a protest rally planned nearby the arena on Biscayne Boulevard by Miami police and firefighters upset about paycuts.
Black is back. Again. The team wants fans clad in black and is giving out 20,000 black “I. Was. There.” T-shirts (courtesy of Carnival Cruise Lines) and commemorative programs. (“Yes. We. Did.” was the slogan for the team pulling off the free agency bonanza in getting LeBron James and Chris Bosh to join Dwyane Wade on the Heat. The team handed out “Yes. We. Did.” signs at the welcoming event July 9).
“Wear black or shop black,” said Andy Montero, the Heat’s senior director of retail operations.
Merchandise: A merchandise tent – typically reserved for the playoffs – is expected to open for business in front of the arena at 3 p.m. Gates to the arena’s east plaza open at 5:30 p.m. for the T-Mobile Tip-Off celebration. T-Mobile, which just entered into a multi-year sponsorship deal with the Heat (it has had a partnership with Wade since the 2006-07 season), is holding a pregame celebration on the plaza for fans with game tickets that includes a performance by Miami rapper Pitbull. DJ Irie and the Heat dancers will entertain and T-Mobile will show off its newest smartphones.
Tickets/Doors/Pregame: Tickets are still available at heat.com. Doors to the arena open early -- 6 p.m. Security could take longer because of the large crowd, but fans can enter at Gates 5 and 6 on the northeast and southeast sides of the arena – not just Gates 1 and 2. Even fans sitting upstairs can go courtside pregame to watch the teams warm up.
Get a Heat license plate: A kiosk outside section 102 will allow fans to purchase or renew their license plates with specialty Heat tags. The tags costs an extra $25, which is tax deductible and goes to charity. To get the license plates, you must have a driver’s license, proof of registration and insurance and cash or check.
Fan Up, Miami!: Fans are being encouraged to get to their seats in time for pregame ceremonies, which will include the debut of the team’s new player introduction video. Read about it here. At halftime, a video highlighting the summer’s events will be shown. A new song celebrating the new-look Heat, called “Celebrate” and written by Emilio Estefan will be officially unveiled. Estefan has created a percussion group called the Miami Heat Rhythm Section to perform at select games. Listen to the song here.
Oh, and there’s a game too. Starts at 8 p.m. on ESPN and Sun Sports.