No franchise took an even more humiliating blow than the Miami Heat, who terminated their 19-year naming rights deal with FTX a year after they agreed to a $135 million agreement to replace American Airlines as the official brand of the Heat’s home arena. It was small beans in comparison to the $700 million Crypto.com will pay Anschutz Entertainment Group, over the next 20 years to replace Staples as the brand synonymous with Lakers and Kings home games.
The Heat’s stadium deal was merely one domino to fall in Miami’s bid to become the Bitcoin Bro Capital. Mayor Francis Suarez and FTX CEO Sam Bankman-Fried sought to transform Miami into the global crypto epicenter. Suarez wooed FTX, which is based in the Bahamas and was a clue everything was not on the up and up, FTX moved its U.S. headquarters to Miami.
FTX only paid $14 million of that $135 million arrangement at the contract signing, but FTX isn’t off the hook with the Heat or the city of Miami. Their contract with Miami-Dade County, which owns FTX Arena, dictates that in the event of default, the crypto exchange company would be liable to pay three years of contract fees within 60 days. Currently, FTX owes $16.5 million over the next three years and the County has the right to charge 12 percent interest annually until the payments are made.
Tennis’ former No. 1 Naomi Osaka, David Ortiz, Trevor Lawrence and Shaq also lost big due to FTX’s collapse. The Washington Wizards and their G League affiliate didn’t take as big of a hit as the Heat, but in a Thanos snap their partnerships evaporated as well. With any luck, this debacle will convince consumers not to follow athletes off a potential financial cliff. They can take the hint and they are often being truthful when they tell you they aren’t experts.