If you’ve been following the FTX saga, you know the cryptocurrency exchange company is in dire straits. The Department of Justice and the Securities and Exchange Commission are investigating FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried and the company for allegedly mishandling customers’ funds. The company owes more than $3 billion to creditors and recently filed for bankruptcy.
For the long list of celebrity FTX endorsers—including Steph Curry, Tom Brady, and Shaquille O’Neal—that’s a bad look. They’ve put their reputation and money behind the company, and likely won’t see either fully recover.
But perhaps no one is more frustrated by FTX’s collapse than the Miami Heat. Or, rather, the entire Miami-Dade County. That’s because the Heat plays in FTX Arena — and they’re only in the second season of a 20-year, $135 million naming rights deal.
The county owns the arena, so they’ve asked a federal judge to void the agreement immediately. After FTX filed for bankruptcy, a judge issued a “stay” order, which means no entity can act against the company. A court will hear Miami-Dade’s case on December 16. If the decision goes against the county, the Heat will still be playing in FTX Arena until 2040.
Miami-Dade has already received nearly $20 million from FTX and owes another $5.5 million in January. If FTX defaults, it would owe an additional $17 million over the next three years.
For now, the Heat still calls FTX Arena home. The FTX logo is on the outside of the building, on the court, and on the Heat jerseys. Heat legend Udonis Haslem starred in an FTX commercial that aired for several months during game broadcasts.
Back in 2021, when FTX was thriving, it signed multiple sport sponsorship deals. MLB named FTX the official cryptocurrency exchange of the league. The Golden State Warriors, Washington Wizards, and Washington Capitals all have FTX contracts, too.
The next few weeks will be especially tense for Miami-Dade County. The greater Miami area has already been hit hard by the sharp decline of crypto, and having to sport the name of a failed crypto exchange would be a long-term black eye on the city.