Miami-Dade calls for removal of FTX name from Heat Arena
MIAMI — Miami-Dade County has petitioned a federal bankruptcy court for immediate approval to terminate its naming rights agreement with FTX and remove that brand from the arena where the NBA’s Miami Heat play. .
In a petition filed Tuesday, the county — which owns the arena and brokered the naming rights deal with FTX — said continuing to refer to the building as FTX Arena will only add to “difficulties.” persistent” caused by the collapse of the cryptocurrency exchange.
“It does not appear that the Debtor will suffer any harm in the event of termination of the naming rights agreement,” the county wrote in its petition. “On the other hand, Miami-Dade County continues to provide the debtor with valuable marquee naming rights and other benefits at the expense of the county’s ability to seek a new naming partner for the arena.”
A hearing is set for mid-December. For now, the FTX signage remains on the building and its name has not been changed.
Tuesday’s motion was hardly unexpected. FTX filed for bankruptcy Nov. 11, and County and the Heat began ending their relationship with the company that same day.
FTX’s collapse has no shortage of ties to the sports world. A number of athletes — Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady, Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry, tennis player Naomi Osaka and Heat forward Udonis Haslem among them — were named as charged in the week latest in a class action lawsuit against FTX. The lawsuit argues that their celebrity status made them guilty of promoting the company’s failing business model.
FTX has a number of other sports-related deals, including with Mercedes for Formula 1 racing and a sponsorship deal with Major League Baseball – whose umpires wore the company’s logo last season. Mercedes has already removed the FTX logo from its racing cars.
The Miami building had been called FTX Arena since June 2021, and a 19-year, $135 million sponsorship deal between FTX and the county was just getting started. FTX’s next payment due to the county is $5.5 million on January 1.
The Heat were to receive $2 million a year as part of the deal.
FTX was the third-largest cryptocurrency exchange, although it wound up with billions of dollars in losses before filing for bankruptcy protection. The Bahamas-based company and its founder, Sam Bankman-Fried, are being investigated by state and federal authorities for allegedly investing depositors’ funds in businesses without their approval.