Purchase of obsolete facility just ‘business as usual’ for Boca entrepreneur

Published Thursday, August 12, 2004
by Sean Salai

ASSOCIATED PRESS Boca resident Glenn Straub promises to add life to Miami Arena recently purchased for $25 million.
Boca Raton businessman Glenn Straub, fresh from a $28 million agreement to buy Miami Arena, is looking to reinvent the location as an affordable family alternative to the city’s professional basketball arena.
“You can’t compete with [American Airlines Arena],” Straub told the Boca Raton News in a telephone interview yesterday. “We’re going after the people who don’t want to pay 50 dollars for parking and ten dollars for a hot dog.”
Straub, 57, agreed Tuesday at an auction to pay $28.01 million for the former home of the Miami Heat and Florida Panthers. If approved by the Miami Sports and Exhibition Authority, the deal will be the latest in a string of high-profile purchases for the owner of Palm Beach Polo, who has made a habit of buying and reviving distressed businesses.
Straub yesterday called the purchase “business as usual,” saying it is small compared to the $40 million transactions he has made in the past.
“We go after everything that’s reasonable and we buy something every five months or so,” he said. “We’ll try this one for a couple years and see if it works. The place is ready to go.”
Miami Arena, built for $52 million, opened in July 1988 and failed to generate revenue for the city from the beginning. It has been virtually unused by any professional sports team since 1998, when the Panthers moved to the Office Depot Center in Sunrise, and is currently maintained via hotel bed tax dollars.
Straub, a “new money” businessman who liked the arena because it’s close to his posh West Boca home and Wellington offices, said he has a foolproof plan to attract around 100 events a year to the building.
“A lot of people need a large facility for concerts, small sports events, arena football, conventions and all the other things too modest for American Airlines Arena,” Straub said. “First off, we’re moving the corporate boxes down from the peanut gallery to help boost revenue. The old boxes were installed in the nose-bleed section, which is just stupid.”