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Report: Miami Heat’s AmericanAirlines Arena in FTX naming rights talks

Deal would be the first time a cryptocurrency firm has given its name to an NBA venue.

15 March 2021 Ed Dixon

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  • American Airlines’ 20-year, US$2.1m per season contract expired in 2019
  • Miami-Dade County has been paying the Heat US$2m a year since end of deal

AmericanAirlines Arena, home of the National Basketball Association’s (NBA) Miami Heat, is edging closer to securing a new naming rights partnership with cryptocurrency trading platform FTX, according to the Miami Herald.

The deal would be the first of its kind for the NBA, tying a venue to Bitcoin and other blockchain-backed digital currencies. FTX would also become the first crypto exchange to sponsor a major professional sports venue in the US.

The Miami Herald adds that, in preparation for the naming rights partnership, the domain name ftxarena.com has been registered by an unidentified party, with FTX Arena accounts on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook also being readied. FTX launched in 2019 and has offices in Hong Kong and San Francisco.

Miami-Dade County has been on the hunt for a new naming rights partner for the Heat’s home since the expiry of American Airlines’ contract in 2019. The airline’s 20-year deal from 1999 was worth US$2.1 million a year.

Having confirmed there would be no extension from American Airlines, Miami-Dade County deputy mayor Ed Marquez said at the time that at least one “nationally renowned company” was in advanced talks to take on the naming rights. Financial services company TD Bank and California mortgage lender Network Capital were among those reportedly linked with a deal, but nothing has materialised.

Miami-Dade County has been paying the Heat US$2 million a year since the end of the American Airlines contract, though the arena continues to use the company’s name.

The length and value of FTX’s mooted deal were not mentioned by the Miami Herald, but prior reports have stated the goal is for the new naming rights partnership to run until the end of the 2029/30 NBA season.

On 14th March, the Bitcoin cryptocurrency rose above US$60,000 for the first time, although at time of writing it had dropped to just over US$57,500.

The Heat are currently valued at US$2.38 billion in Sportico’s 2021 NBA Franchise Valuations report, putting them 12th out of the league’s 30 teams.

On the court, the Heat lie fourth in the Eastern Conference and have won nine of their last ten games.

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