AP

Miami Heat home arena gets temporary name after FTX collapse

Jan 13, 2023, 12:18 AM | Updated: 2:54 pm

Miami Heat center Bam Adebayo (13) takes a shot against Milwaukee Bucks center Brook Lopez (11) and...

Miami Heat center Bam Adebayo (13) takes a shot against Milwaukee Bucks center Brook Lopez (11) and guard Pat Connaughton (24) during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Thursday, Jan. 12, 2023, in Miami. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)

(AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)

MIAMI (AP) — The home of the Miami Heat has yet another name: Miami-Dade Arena.

That will be the temporary moniker for the building where the NBA team plays its home games, while the search for a more permanent naming-rights partner commences.

The Heat and Miami-Dade County announced the new name Friday, two days after a bankruptcy court terminated the county’s naming rights deal with collapsed cryptocurrency exchange FTX. A county official had said earlier in the week that it would be referred to as “the Arena,” though those plans quickly changed.

“Effective immediately, Miami-Dade County and the Miami Heat have agreed that, until such time as there is a new naming rights partner, to refer to the arena as Miami-Dade Arena,” the parties said in a joint statement. “The removal of the facility’s existing signage and the changeover of branding elements will be ongoing in the coming weeks.”

The process of removing FTX branding from all aspects of the arena will take some time. The company’s logo appears on the court, is on many of the entrances, is embroidered on the shirts many security and in-game personnel wear, is on the arena roof and even was placed on the swipe cards that employees use to access the facility.

The county asked for the naming rights deal to be terminated in November, saying at the time that continuing to refer to the building as FTX Arena will only add to the “enduring hardships” brought on by the collapse of the cryptocurrency exchange.

The county owns the arena and negotiated what was to be a 19-year, $135 million naming rights deal with FTX. The Heat — who have played in the building since Jan. 2, 2000 — were to receive $2 million annually as part of that deal, which went into effect in June 2021. The county and the Heat say they will work together to find a new naming partner.

Before the FTX deal, the building had been referred to as AmericanAirlines Arena since its opening in 1999. The airline giant, which has a hub in Miami, said in 2019 that it would not renew its deal past the expiration date of Jan. 1, 2020. The airline’s name remained on the building until 2021.

FTX was the third-largest cryptocurrency exchange, though it ended up with billions of dollars’ worth of losses — estimates range from $8 billion to $10 billion — before seeking bankruptcy protection after a spectacular crash that took only a few days.

Its founder, Sam Bankman-Fried, 30, was arrested last month in the Bahamas and extradited to the U.S. to face criminal charges in what U.S. Attorney Damian Williams has called “one of the biggest frauds in American history.” Bankman-Fried has been released on bail and is scheduled to go on trial in October. He has pleaded not guilty.

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