Miami Heat looks to rename arena following FTX bankruptcy

NASA, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons; KATIE STUTE, Contributed Graphic

On Saturday, Nov. 12, the Miami Heat posted a joint statement with Miami-Dade County on Instagram announcing their decision to “terminate” their partnership with FTX following the cryptocurrency company’s file for bankruptcy.

The 19-year, $135 million deal was finalized in June 2021. The collaboration between the former American Airlines Arena and FTX was just shy of its two-year anniversary. ESPN reports that the entertainment venue’s signage and branding is set to come down soon.

“Should FTX be unable to meet their financial obligations under the naming rights deal, the County will explore all legal remedies,” Mayor Daniella Levine Cava’s office said in a statement released.

A payment of $5.5 million is due to Miami-Dade County in January 2023.

FTX filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection on Friday, Nov. 11, rocking the world of athletic and automotive sponsorships. Over the past few years since their rapid success, the digital assets platform established relationships with top athletes and luxury car brands, such as Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry, four-time Grand Slam champion Naomi Osaka and Mercedes-Benz for Formula One racing.

Heat fans and Miami lifestyle accounts were quick to take to social media with name suggestions. @lifestyle_miami and @literallymiami posted possible contenders to take over the arena’s branding on Instagram. Ideas included the Café Bustelo Arena, El Palacio de los Jugos Arena and Versailles Arena, each one a reflection of the 305’s culture.

Instagram and Twitter users took to the comment sections to express their desire for American Airlines Arena to make a comeback. Others suggested the Miami Arena, an unofficial name for the locale that many of those born and raised in the county of Dade have used amongst their own free will.

Elliot Farr, a sophomore majoring in legal studies, heard about the news through the Miami Heat’s Instagram statement.

“I wasn’t too surprised by the name change,” Farr said. “However, learning that the Heat were using part of the money from that sponsorship for their community relations initiatives was surprising, making the name change that much more important.”

Farr found @literallymiami’s memes, like Big Face Coffee Arena, after Miami Heat small forward Jimmy Butler’s coffee brand, “hilarious.”

Nonetheless, Farr is rooting for local and in-state businesses.

“Publix would be my pick, since it’s a name everyone knows and the name would have a nice ring to it,” Farr said.

Derek Hart, a sophomore health sciences major, learned about the news through various basketball media Twitter accounts.

“Immediately, I was surprised considering how recent this deal had come to fruition, especially from a company in an industry that many thought would be taking off in cryptocurrency,” Hart said.

Among his favorite name suggestions are “Versailles Arena” and “Big Daddy’s Arena.”

While it could be some time before an official name change process goes underway, the venue will continue to be referred to as the FTX Arena for future events indefinitely. In the meantime, I’ll be over here counting the days until my next Heat game at the ______ Arena.