Addition of solar-powered Xfinity East Plaza expands entertainment options for fans outdoors
With the Jan. 31 opening of the Xfinity East Plaza outside AmericanAirlines Arena in Miami, the venue accomplished two of the main drivers in today’s facility world – utilization of outdoor space and a new revenue stream.
The 19,600-seat arena, home to the NBA’s Miami Heat, opened New Year’s Eve 1999 and,- since that time, had an outdoor space on the east side of the building that had plenty of planters and a remarkable view of Biscayne Bay and the city skyline but nothing more.
All that changed with the opening of the Xfinity East Plaza, a 23,000-sq.-foot outdoor space that is covered by a solar canopy and features 14 translucent solar panels, which utilize Building Integrated Photovoltaic (BIPV) solar technology to allow for the offset of energy consumption and adequately deals with the extremes of the city’s heat and rain. The space was previously uncovered and underutilized primarily because of Miami’s year-round sun and rain, but is now an environmentally friendly, technologically sophisticated and fully functional entertainment space able to handle crowds of up to 3,000.
John Vidalin serves as executive vice president and chief revenue officer for the Heat and had a grasp on how to utilize the space when he came to the team more than two years ago after working on a similar solar canopy project as part of the opening of Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, Calif. and home to the San Francisco 49ers.
“When I interviewed with Eric Woolworth (president of the Heat Group’s business operations), he said, ‘Boy, if we could get this space covered it would be a real win.” Vidalin said. “We started talking about some of the history I had with NRG Energy when I worked with the Houston Texans and then the ‘Niners project and went from there.