MIAMI (CBSMiami) — The Miami Heat hysteria is here. Inside the AmericanAirlines Arena in Downtown Miami, fans definitely have Heat fever, including seasoned fan Audrey Prichett who is here from New York.
“We’ve been here four days and I can’t help it, I’m a Heat fan,” said Prichett.
The fever has even caught on with the Swedish.
“We’ve been here for four days in Miami and now I’m a Heat fan,” said Emil Hultgrem who is visiting from Sweden.
Often considered bandwagon fans, the folks out Thursday ahead of Game 1 of the NBA Finals, spent some money to become Heat fans.
Tickets for Game 1 sold out this afternoon, however, secondary market tickets are actually going for less than face value.
Seats at the very top are two hundred dollars while courtside seats will set you back around twenty grand.
The good news is no matter where your seat is, you will get a free Nike T-Shirt.
Hultgrem was at the arena Thursday morning buying tickets to the game but could only get 400 level seats. “Yeah, and it’s a bit behind the basket,” he said.
Hultgrem didn’t mind because after all, it is the NBA Finals.
Now, as the hours countdown to tipoff, Andy Montero is staying busy because he runs the Heat’s retail side of things. They’ve opened three stories across South Florida including Miami International Airport.
“The demand has gotten a little bit greater,” said Miami Heat retail VP Andy Montero. “Basically we want to make sure that we have it all covered.”
The hot items are anything white and some cool mementos of an amazing season.
“We’ve created Heat 66 and on the back it shows the Heats’ 66 wins this season,” explained Montero about one of the T-shirts for sale at the stores.
Just as the Miami Heat has rebounded, so has Downtown Miami.
Ovber the last three years, a glut of twenty-thousand condos have been sold. Occupancy is at 97%, according to the Downtown Development Authority. They believe LeBron James’ arrival sped things up.
“Miami needed a reason to feel proud,” said Alyce Robertson of Miami DDA. “The first year we were a little disappointed in what was happening but the second year at the parade, you could see everyone was charged. And the global image, you couldn’t even pay for that kind publicity.”
Miami will get some great publicity this week. Some 215 countries will watch the Finals online or on TV and the game will be covered in 47 different languages.
The Heat tip-off against the Spurs at 9:00 p.m. Thursday night.
Click here for complete Heat coverage during the NBA Finals.