The name of bankrupt cryptocurrency firm FTX is set to be removed from the home arena of the NBA’s Miami Heat after the sponsorship deal between the two parties was officially terminated yesterday (Wednesday).
A federal bankruptcy court terminated the deal in a win for Miami-Dade County, which owns the arena. All FTX signage and branding is now set to be removed from the facility, although this may prove challenging with the NBA season in full swing.
The Associated Press news agency has reported that US Bankruptcy Judge John Dorsey said the termination of the rights deal “shall be effective immediately upon entry of this order”.
Natalia Jaramillo, deputy communications director for Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava, told the Miami Herald newspaper that the venue would be referred to as ‘the Arena’ until a new sponsor is found.
The Heat and Miami-Dade County announced in November that the naming-rights deal with FTX would be terminated after the firm filed for bankruptcy. FTX acquired naming rights to the arena in April 2021 in a deal worth a reported $135m (£112m/€125m) over 19 years.
FTX filed for bankruptcy after rival cryptocurrency exchange Binance walked away from a deal to acquire the firm, leaving its sports sponsorship deals in the balance. Miami-Dade County and the Heat said at the time that they would be “immediately” taking action to terminate their association with FTX and this has now been ratified.
Last week, lawyers for FTX filed a motion to cancel a list of more than 20 marketing deals, including the Miami arena naming-rights agreement. Creditors had until January 13 to object to cancelling the marketing deals.
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.
After FTX filed for bankruptcy, its venue naming-rights deal was also suspended with the University of California, Berkeley. FTX acquired naming rights to the field at California Memorial Stadium in August 2021.