Crypto industry to get first major U.S. stadium with Miami-Dade County approving FTX for Heat home
Milwaukee Bucks’ Giannis Antetokounmpo # 34 heads to the basket against Bam Adebayo # 13 of Miami Heat in the second half at the American Airlines Arena on March 2, 2020 in Miami, Florida.
Michael Reaves | Getty Images
A city trying to rename itself as the center of the crypto world could soon have a cryptocurrency exchange in the stadium of its NBA franchise.
FTX has won the naming rights for the entertainment venue currently known as the American Airlines Arena, which is home to the Miami Heat. The deal, which was approved by the Miami-Dade Board of County Commissioners on Friday, has a term of $ 135 million over 19 years.
The NBA has yet to approve the deal before it becomes official, FTX CEO Sam Bankman-Fried said in an email. The NBA did not immediately respond to requests for comment. The Heat declined to comment.
The company now has a long and sometimes checkered history of companies with stadium naming rights. Some brands, like Gillette and the New England Patriots or Staples Center and the Los Angeles Lakers, become synonymous with their franchises.
For other companies, however, the naming rights served as billboards reminding audiences of their struggles. The sports authority was forced to forego its sponsorship of the NFL’s Broncos Stadium after it went bankrupt in 2016.
Enron is known to have the rights to the MLB’s Houston Astros Stadium before an accounting scandal brought the company to a standstill. And in Oklahoma City, Chesapeake Energy’s branding is still in the basketball arena for the NBA’s Thunder, even after the company filed for bankruptcy last year.
The dot-com era two decades ago offers even more fodder for misnamed naming rights. Tech company CMGI was the original sponsor of what would become the Gillette Stadium, but had to cut that agreement after a CNN report at the time after stocks were replenished. The now dissolved companies Adelphia and PSINet also had naming rights for the NFL stadium at the turn of the century.
Politicians and business leaders in the Miami area have worked over the past year to make the company a welcoming environment for tech and crypto firms. Francis Suarez, the mayor of the city of Miami, told CNBC last month that Miami “positioned us as one of the most tech-friendly cities in America” and announced that city workers could choose to be paid in Bitcoin.
Many of the commissioners and Miami-Dade County’s mayor Daniella Levine Cava praised the agreement that funds from the deal could be used for initiatives to curb poverty and armed violence. Some of the commissioners, including Rebeca Sosa, raised concerns about granting the rights to a young company with limited US presence, but the deal was overwhelmingly accepted.
FTX is a non-US international cryptocurrency exchange that has more products than its FTX US counterpart. Bankman-Fried said the two were separate companies and that he was the majority shareholder of both.
The Miami Heat has been one of the most successful NBA franchises in recent years. Since 2010, it has appeared in five NBA finals and won two titles.