Miami-Dade asks for right to remove FTX name from Heat arena

Nov 22, 2022, 1:44 AM | Updated: 3:46 pm
The FTX Arena name is still visible where the Miami Heat basketball team plays Saturday, Nov. 12, 2...

The FTX Arena name is still visible where the Miami Heat basketball team plays Saturday, Nov. 12, 2022, in Miami. Lawyers for FTX disclosed Tuesday that a “substantial amount" of assets have been stolen from the accounts of the collapsed cryptocurrency exchange, diminishing the odds that its millions of investors will get their money back. (AP Photo/Marta Lavandier, File)

(AP Photo/Marta Lavandier, File)

MIAMI (AP) — Miami-Dade County has asked a federal bankruptcy court for immediate permission to end its naming rights deal with FTX and strip that brand off the arena where the NBA’s Miami Heat play.

In a motion filed Tuesday, the county — which owns the arena and negotiated the naming rights deal with FTX — said continuing to refer to the building as FTX Arena will only add to the “enduring hardships” brought on by the collapse of the cryptocurrency exchange.

“It does not appear that the Debtor will suffer harm from a termination of the Naming Rights Agreement,” the county wrote in its motion. “On the other hand, Miami-Dade County continues to supply valuable marquee naming rights and other benefits to the Debtor, to the detriment of the County’s ability to seek a new naming partner for the Arena.”

A hearing is set for mid-December. For now, FTX signage remains on the building and its name has not been changed.

Tuesday’s motion was hardly unexpected. FTX filed for bankruptcy on Nov. 11, and the county and the Heat began the process of terminating their relationship with the company that same day.

The FTX 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 defendants last week in a class-action lawsuit against FTX. The suit argues that their celebrity status made them culpable for promoting the firm’s failed business model.

FTX entered into a number of other sports-related deals, including with Mercedes for Formula One racing and a sponsorship deal with Major League Baseball — whose umpires wore the company’s logo this past season. Mercedes has already taken the FTX logo off its race cars.

The building in Miami had been called FTX Arena since June 2021, and a 19-year, $135 million sponsorship agreement between FTX and the county was just getting started. FTX’s next payment due to the county is $5.5 million on Jan. 1.

The Heat were to receive $2 million annually as part of the deal.

FTX was the third-largest cryptocurrency exchange, though it ended up with billions of dollars worth of losses before seeking bankruptcy protection. The Bahamas-based company and its founder, Sam Bankman-Fried, are under investigation by state and federal authorities for allegedly investing depositors’ funds in ventures without their approval.

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