The Miami Heat NBA basketball franchise has terminated its arena naming-rights deal with FTX after the cryptocurrency firm filed for bankruptcy on Friday.
The team and Miami-Dade County, which owns FTX Arena, will now work together to find a new naming-rights partner for the arena. FTX acquired naming rights to the arena in April 2021 in a deal worth a reported $135m (£115m/€131m) over 19 years.
Last week, rival cryptocurrency exchange Binance walked away from a deal to acquire the struggling FTX, leaving the latter’s sports sponsorship deals in the balance. A statement from FTX on Friday confirmed that it had filed for bankruptcy, with chief executive and founder Sam Bankman-Fried also resigning.
It was reported last week that FTX, which had been struggling following a surge in withdrawals, was being investigated by the US Securities and Exchange Commission over its handling of customer funds, as well as its crypto-lending activities.
A statement from the Miami Heat and Miami-Dade County 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 programmes in the years ahead.”
FTX Arena had previously been known as AmericanAirlines Arena since it opened in December 1999. The airline announced in 2019 that it would not be extending its $2m per year deal once it ended in 2020.
Miami-Dade County was reportedly due to receive $90m from FTX over the course of the 19-year deal. FTX also served as the official and exclusive cryptocurrency exchange partner of the team.
FTX also holds sponsorship deals with Formula 1 team Mercedes, Major League Baseball, NFL legend Tom Brady and NBA star Steph Curry. Mercedes suspended its deal ahead of the Brazilian Grand Prix.
FTX also holds naming rights to the field at California Memorial Stadium as part of a wide-ranging deal with the athletics department of the University of California, Berkeley.
As part of the agreement, signed in August 2021, the 62,000-seat venue was rebranded as FTX Field at California Memorial Stadium. The 10-year deal was worth $17.5m and was said to mark the first-ever cryptocurrency naming-rights sponsorship in college sports.
The Miami Herald reported that the Heat’s home venue will continue to be known as FTX Arena until further notice as the team begins the process of finding a new sponsor.