Miami Heat’s FTX deal gets final approval

The NBA basketball league has approved the Miami Heat’s arena naming-rights deal with cryptocurrency exchange FTX, with a long-term partnership having been confirmed by the two parties.

It was reported last month that the Heat’s AmericanAirlines Arena was to be renamed as part of a deal with FTX. The deal had been approved by the Miami-Dade County Commission but still required the green light from the NBA.

League approval has now been granted and the Heat’s venue will officially become the FTX Arena from the 2021-22 season onwards. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed but the Local10 website reported that the agreement will be worth $135m (£98m/€113m) over 19 years, with $90m to be given to Miami-Dade County, which owns the arena. FTX chief executive Sam Bankman-Fried confirmed to Local10 that the NBA had approved the deal.

The Heat announced yesterday (Wednesday) that FTX had agreed a deal to become the official and exclusive cryptocurrency exchange partner of the team. The deal will work “in tandem” with the naming-rights agreement.

Eric Woolworth, president of the Heat Group’s business operations, said: “FTX.us is an exciting, young company in an emerging category of the financial services industry that continues to grow at lightning speed, and we are ecstatic to welcome them with open arms to the Magic City. This is a ground-breaking, first-of-its-kind partnership in our industry that will draw global attention.

“This trailblazing new partnership with FTX.us would not have been possible without the visionary leadership and pragmatic approach of Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava. We would like to thank Mayor Cava as well as her chief operations officer Jimmy Morales and the Board of County Commissioners for their efforts in ensuring the continued success of our enduring public-private partnership with Miami Dade County.”

Bankman-Fried added: “Internet technology and digital finance are evolving incredibly quickly. We wanted to partner with a city and a franchise that are dynamic, diverse, innovative and always forward-looking.

“When it comes to those qualifications, Miami and the Heat are second to none. One of America’s great cities and one of the world’s most iconic teams are poised for an even brighter future, and we’re thrilled to be a part of it.”

FTX allows customers to trade Bitcoin, Ethereum and other cryptocurrencies safely and securely. As part of its deal with the Heat, the exchange will benefit from prominent in-arena signage, hospitality, association with Heat digital content series, promotions, contests, community engagements and more.

The Heat’s home has been known as AmericanAirlines Arena since it opened in December 1999. AmericanAirlines announced in 2019 that it would not extend its $2m per year deal once it ended in 2020.

Image: Rob Olivera/CC BY 2.0/Edited for size