Farewell, FTX Arena: Judge Grants Permission To Kill Miami Heat Naming Rights Deal
Miami-Dade County officially ended its naming rights partnership with crypto exchange firm FTX after a federal bankruptcy judge granted the county's request to remove the company's signage from the Miami Heat's arena.
The deal fell through after FTX CEO Sam Bankman-Fried was arrested and charged with eight criminal counts in December, including wire fraud and conspiracy to mislead investors. Until a new sponsor is secured, the stadium, which sits in the heart of downtown Miami, will be referred to as “the Arena,” the Miami Herald reports.
Dade County asked a federal bankruptcy court for approval to terminate the deal with FTX in November. The county sought to exit the 19-year, $135M sponsorship deal it signed with FTX in 2021 after it was discovered the company had lost billions in customer deposits.
The county planned to use part of the proceeds from the rights deal for initiatives against gun violence. The facility had previously been called American Airlines Arena.
The bankrupt crypto exchange firm, founded in 2018, allowed users to trade bitcoin, ethereum and other digital currencies. Before its collapse and Bankman-Fried’s arrest, the company was the third-largest crypto exchange house in the world.
FTX’s U.S. division announced plans in September to relocate its headquarters to Miami from Chicago. Miami Mayor Francis Suarez tweeted "Welcome HOME!" when Bankman-Fried announced the move, calling the 30-year-old entrepreneur "one of the most innovative technologists" on the planet.
Less than three months later, Bankman-Fried was arrested in the Bahamas and extradited to the U.S. to face federal criminal charges and Securities and Exchange Commission penalties. He pleaded not guilty Jan. 3 in a New York courtroom and is awaiting trial.