Defense

Miami ditches “FTX Arena” as sponsorships with the bankrupt exchange haunt sports orgs

Tuesday, November 15, 2022 by Robinhood Snacks |
New name coming in hot (Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

New name coming in hot (Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

Chilling in Miami with the heat… Not enjoying the Florida sunshine: FTX. The bankrupt crypto exchange had signed a 19-year, $135M deal for naming rights to the Miami Heat’s home arena last year. Now Miami-Dade County and its NBA team say they’re “immediately taking action” to end their relationship with FTX. The exchange had paid $14M up front and was scheduled to make a $5.5M payment in January.

  • Bye, FTX Arena: It’ll still be referred to as FTX Arena for Saturday’s Heat game, but social-media pics suggest the FTX logo is already being dismantled.
  • Hi, [insert name here] Arena: Miami said it would work with the Heat to find a new naming-rights partner for the arena.

From the NBA to the MLB… FTX has a stacked portfolio of sports sponsorships. Last year, Major League Baseball signed a five-year deal to name FTX its official crypto-exchange partner (think: FTX.us patches on umpire uniforms).

  • Racing: FTX also had a long-term sponsorship deal with Mercedes’ Formula One team — that’s now been scrapped (no more FTX logos on F1 cars).
  • Esports: FTX had struck a naming-rights deal with US esports giant TSM, among other esports players. Brazilian org Furia tweeted that it’s ending its deal with FTX.
  • Football: Last year UC Berkeley struck a $17.5M, 10-year naming-rights deal with FTX for its football stadium. TBD if it’s getting a new name.
THE TAKEAWAY

Crypto has covered its bases… in sports. Crypto brands spent $130M+ on NBA sponsorships alone last season, up from ~$2M in the previous season. Five crypto companies — including FTX, Crypto.com, and Coinbase — were responsible for 92% of NBA sponsorship spending in the crypto category. Crypto.com’s Lakers’ stadium-naming deal alone is reportedly worth $700M. But now that the Enron-style “naming-rights curse” has hit FTX, sports orgs might need to cover their bases too.