Sponsorship & Marketing

FTX’s California Memorial Stadium deal suspended

Featured image credit: Cal Athletics

University of California, Berkeley has become the latest organisation to take action against FTX by suspending its venue naming rights deal with the failed cryptocurrency exchange.

In August 2021, FTX acquired 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, the 62,000-seat venue was rebranded as FTX Field at California Memorial Stadium. The 10-year deal is worth $17.5m (£14.7m/€16.9m) and was said to mark the first-ever cryptocurrency naming-rights sponsorship in college sports.

The deal was signed between Cal Athletics, its multimedia rights-holder Cal Bears Sports Properties, and West Realm Shires Services, which owns and operates FTX. Cal Bears Sports Properties is operated by Learfield, which was due to accept the full $17.5m in cryptocurrency on behalf of the university.

NBA basketball franchise the Miami Heat terminated its arena naming-rights deal with FTX after the firm filed for bankruptcy on November 11. 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 over 19 years.

A University of California, Berkeley statement, reported by DailyMail.com, read: “Learfield’s Cal Bears Sports Properties, working in collaboration with Cal Athletics, has suspended the FTX naming rights sponsorship with Cal Athletics.”

The Heat agreement was the first major deal in what was a run of sponsorships by FTX with major sports organisations including Major League Baseball (MLB), the International Cricket Council (ICC) and Formula 1 team Mercedes-AMG Petronas.