In the wake of the collapse of cryptocurrency exchange FTX, the naming-rights holder for the Miami Heat’s downtown Arena, the team and Miami-Dade County announced Friday they immediately will “take action to terminate” that business relationship and seek a new naming-rights partner for the team’s home alongside Biscayne Boulevard.
Just Wednesday, the Heat had released a statement that read, “It is far too premature for us to comment.”
Friday evening, a joint statement from the team and county was released that read:
“The reports about FTX and its affiliates are extremely disappointing. Miami-Dade County and the Miami HEAT are immediately taking action to terminate our business relationships with FTX, and we will be working together to find a new naming rights partner for the arena.
“We are proud of the impact our Peace & Prosperity Plan — sponsored by County Commissioner Keon Hardemon and funded through the original deal — is already having in preventing violence and creating opportunity for young people across Miami-Dade, and we look forward to identifying a new partner to continue funding these important programs in the years ahead.”
A Heat spokesman declined Friday to say what the arena would be called in the interim as a new naming-rights holder is sought.
Miami-Dade County in March 2021 agreed to a 19-year, $135 million contract with FTX for naming rights to the facility alongside Biscayne Bay, with the official renaming coming three months later.
Last month, the FTX logo was formally placed on the arena’s roof, replacing the airplane logo of American Airlines, on what had been AmericanAirlines Arena until the air carrier moved on from the sponsorship.
“We are closely monitoring it. We are exploring all possible avenues to prepare ourselves,” Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava said about FTX at a Thursday news conference.
According to the Associated Press, “The embattled cryptocurrency exchange, short billions of dollars, sought bankruptcy protection after the exchange experienced the crypto equivalent of a bank run. FTX, the hedge fund Alameda Research, and dozens of other affiliated companies filed a bankruptcy petition in Delaware on Friday morning. FTX US, which originally was not expected to be included in any financial rescue, was also part of the company’s bankruptcy filing.”
CEO and founder Sam Bankman-Fried, who had been prominently featured when the Heat’s arena deal with FTX was announced in March 2021, has resigned in the wake of FTX’s failure and seen his previous $23 billion net worth all but evaporate.
In its bankruptcy filing, FTX listed assets between $10 billion to $50 billion, with a similar estimate for liabilities.
The failure of FTX comes amid calls for stricter oversight of the cryptocurrency industry.
Mercedes, which had a Formula 1 sponsorship agreement with the company, is removing the company’s logo from its race cars.
FTX made a significant splash with its entry into the sports realm. Beyond the Heat’s arena, the company has a sponsorship-patch agreement with Major League Baseball for umpire uniforms, the naming rights for Cal-Berkley’s football field, and marketing agreements with Tom Brady, Stephen Curry and Sohei Otani, among others.
Heat captain Udonis Haslem is featured in a commercial for FTX that plays inside the arena and on the team’s broadcasts. Haslem said he was not an investor.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.