Betting your business on the Heat

Lebron James #6 of the Miami Heat shoots against the Dallas Mavericks on November 27, 2010 at the American Airlines Center in Dallas, T.X.

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STEVE CHIOTAKIS: The Miami Heat play the Utah Jazz tonight in Salt Lake City. Considering Miami has an all-star duo with LeBron James and Dwayne Wade, Heat fans aren't very happy with the NBA team's performance so far this season. They've already dropped eight games.

And for one South Florida bar owner, who's staked his financial future on the Heat's success, the losses hurt really bad.

From station WLRN in Miami, Phil Latzman reports.


Phil Latzman: It's a Thursday night and the Whiskey-Tango sports bar is packed with Miami Heat fans cheering on their team. But there may be another reason why the place is overflowing.

John Todora: One year, every time the Heat lose, we will pay your tab, and the way it works out is that it's a $25 gift card every time they lose.

That's owner John Todora. And the damage so far?

Todora: We have reached into our pocket for just under $35,000.

Or, so he claims. Todora says he'll have to sell more nachos and beer just to break even if the Heat keeps its current pace.

Todora: It's been incredibly frustrating. From a casual fans standpoint, I don't see a lot of heart out there. Or maybe I'm taking it a little personal. Bottom line right now? While we've been a little busier, the money we've made, we've lost.

But while the promotion hasn't been a money-maker for the bar, it's scoring big with these patrons.

Latzman: So, who's rooting for the Heat here?

Crowd in bar cheers

Latzman: Even if you guys got a free meal, you wouldn't root against the Heat?

Crowd: Noooooooooo! Go Heat!

Though Tavon McClain says it sure is tempting.

Tavon McClain: That's kind of 50-50, but um, no, not really. I'm a die-hard fan. I'll show up for the free meal, but I'm gonna root for the team.

And bar owner John Todora says he has faith in his team -- and his promotion.

Todora: Looking long-term, the reality of it is hopefully, even with the losses -- hopefully with some wins -- people will remember that the owners of Whiskey-Tango, were the crazy guys, crazy enough to do this.

And as LeBron James nails a three-pointer, Todora's investment may indeed pay off come the NBA finals in June.

In Miami, I'm Phil Latzman for Marketplace.

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