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Miami Heat's Arena Will Be Renamed After Cryptocurrency Exchange In $135M Deal

The FTX cryptocurrency exchange intends to buy the naming rights for the NBA's Miami Heat's arena for $135M, the Miami Herald reported Friday.

The downtown Miami venue is called the American Airlines Arena, often referred to as the Triple A.

An agreement with Miami-Dade County would last 19 years. In a complex deal, the county would take in $8.2M the first year and less in subsequent years. The county would have to pay the Heat $2M per year, plus various other operational expenses, but it would ultimately get to keep about $90M to be reserved for combating gun violence and poverty, the paper reported.

The arena where the Miami Heat play will be named after a cryptocurrency exchange.

FTX Arena would have an FTX logo on the roof and on the basketball court. FTX can cancel the deal if the NBA doesn't approve the logo on the court.

FTX's CEO is Samuel Bankman-Fried, a low-profile 29-year-old blockchain billionaire who graduated from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He has residences in the U.S. and Hong Kong.

"I'm humbled and excited to work with Miami-Dade County, and hope that together we can make a huge difference in millions of people's lives," Bankman-Fried said in a March 26 tweet.

"Today Miami-Dade finalized a $135 million partnership with FTX to name FTX Arena, home of our Miami Heat," Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava tweeted. "This historic investment will be used to tackle some of our most pressing challenges – confronting our gun violence crisis and expanding pathways to prosperity."

Miami Mayor Francis Suarez has been making a concerted effort to lure tech companies to the city and accept Bitcoin for fines and permits. 

Cleveland’s Superlative Group brokered the naming rights deal and will earn $5.3M from it. Previously, a porn company had offered $10M per year for the naming rights.

According to the Herald, naming rights for NBA arenas vary based on location, age of the facilities and the year the deal was brokered. JPMorgan Chase pays $15M per year on a new San Francisco arena. Smoothie King pays about $4M per year in New Orleans, while State Farm pays $9M annually in Atlanta.

American Airlines bought the 20-year naming rights to the Heat's arena for $42M in 1999.

Miami's downtown was neglected for decades but in the past few years has seen frenzied development. A massive, $5B mixed-use project called Miami WorldCenter is being built steps away from the arena, and a station for the private train Brightline is also nearby.