The FTX Arena no longer exists. As contagion from the FTX collapse continues to spread, a Florida judge on Wednesday stripped cryptocurrency platform FTX of its naming rights to the Miami Heat headquarters.
The news comes after a court hearing in Delaware Bankruptcy Court, where attorneys told the court that Alameda Research funds financed the settlement with Miami-Dade County.
The county had already received approval to remove FTX’s signs after the platform filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection last November. Today’s ruling was made retroactive to December 31, 2022.
Today’s order finalized the separation of the parties, and now allows the owners of the Miami Heat stadium to seek new bidders and partnerships for the building.
“Their short-term goal, both in filing their own application and in becoming the grant recipients of this motion, is that it will no longer be the FTX Arena,” legal analyst David Weinstein told Local 10 News. “They will, of course, have whatever resources may be available under the contract to recover any lost money. But given the nature of the way this all went to waste, I think it’s one of those situations where you cut ties, you leave it behind and move on to the future.
Now, Weinstein added, Miami-Dade will have to decide what the county will do with the money already received by FTX in the settlement or turn the money over to the bankruptcy court overseeing the FTX case.
“That becomes something for the court to examine how [Miami-Dade] got the money, whether or not they did their due diligence, whether they were duped just like all the other Investors in this alleged Ponzi scheme. And whether or not they have a good faith basis to say that we received that money,” Weinstein said.
The $213 million, 18,000-seat facility opened in 1999 as the American Airlines Arena. In March 2021, then-CEO of FTX Sam Bankman-Fried signed a 19-year contract with Miami-Dade, the owners of the stadium, for $135 million in concept of naming rights. It would have provided Miami-Dade County with $2 million a year.
The deal raised eyebrows in the industry, not only due to its dollar amount, but also the fact that FTX was only two years old at the time, launching in 2019.
“It’s been a pretty good year for us. To the point where, frankly, we don’t need to depend on the other 18 years to have the funding for this,” Bankman-Fried told Decrypt during a interview on the GM Podcast. “So it’s been a phenomenal year for a number of companies and for the cryptocurrency industry in particular. And I think for us even more so. And that’s given us a pretty big cushion.”
Naming rights deals were a popular move for cryptocurrency companies ahead of the start of the crypto winter of 2022.
In November 2021, rival cryptocurrency exchange Crypto.com, signed a $700 million deal with the owners of the then-Staples Center, home of the Los Angeles Lakers and Clippers.