Heat launch search for new naming rights partner after FTX debacle

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After a federal judge terminated the naming rights agreement for FTX Arena, the Miami Heat and Miami-Dade County announced on Thursday they are in the market for a new naming rights partner.

The NBA franchise and county sought termination just 11 days after the crypto exchange filed for bankruptcy.

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The FTX Arena prior to the game between the Boston Celtics and Miami Heat on Oct. 21, 2022, in Miami, Florida. (Megan Briggs / Getty Images)

"When the news first broke about FTX several weeks ago, Miami-Dade County took immediate legal action to terminate our business relationship with FTX," Miami-Dade County and the Heat said in a joint statement. "On January 11th, our motion to lift the automatic stay of the FTX's bankruptcy proceedings to terminate the original naming rights agreement in its entirety was approved.

"Miami-Dade County and the Miami HEAT will now work aggressively to identify a new naming rights partner for the arena… We look forward to identifying a new partner to continue funding these and other new critical programs in the years ahead."

Miami-Dade County owns the arena and negotiated the naming rights to the venue. The two sides agreed on a 19-year, $135 million agreement in June 2021. The Heat were slated to make $2 million per year as part of the agreement, while a majority of the remaining revenue from the deal would go to the county in efforts to fight gun violence and poverty.

"We remain proud of the impact our Peace & Prosperity Plan – sponsored by County Commissioner Keon Hardemon and funded through the original deal – is already having in preventing violence and creating opportunity for young people across Miami-Dade," the statement said.

In a motion filed in November, the county said continuing to refer to the building as FTX Arena will only add to the "enduring hardships" brought on by the collapse of the exchange.

Miami-Dade County and the NBA’s Miami Heat sought to end business ties with FTX following the crypto exchange’s bankruptcy filing. (Eva Marie Uzcategui/Bloomberg via / Getty Images)

FTX BANKRUPTCY JUDGE TERMINATES MIAMI HEAT ARENA NAMING RIGHTS DEAL

"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."

FTX got involved with many sports leagues and athletes. It had a deal with Mercedes for Formula One racing and a sponsorship deal with Major League Baseball. Mercedes also said Friday it would remove all FTX logos from its Formula One cars. Tom Brady and Stephen Curry also had deals with the exchange.

Investors recently filed a class-action lawsuit against founder Sam Bankman-Fried that names Brady, Curry, Shaquille O'Neal, Trevor Lawrence, David Ortiz, Shohei Ohtani and Naomi Osaka as defendants. 

FTX Arena exterior at night with Miami Heat logo. (FTX Arena)

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The University of California-Berkeley removed FTX's logo from its football field shortly after the exchange's bankruptcy.

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