'F– SBF' Projected On FTX Arena in Miami on New Year's Eve

Miami-Dade County wants out of its naming rights deal with FTX and has already removed some signage. But the disgraced crypto company still owes the county millions, including a $5.5 million payment scheduled for January.

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By Gabrielle Bienasz

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Miami arena before it was renamed to FTX Arena.

Miami was a hotbed during the crypto craze, but now it's giving the F-word to its former king.

"F— SBF" and "Where is my money Sam" were put up in lights in Miami on the side of the FTX Arena (home to the NBA's Miami Heat), just after midnight on January 1, 2023, according to an Instagram post from director and documentary producer Billy Corben.

"At FTX Arena in Miami, shortly after midnight on NYE, the words...were projected on the side of the building #BecauseMiami," Corben wrote on Tuesday.

"SBF" is a common acronym for Sam Bankman-Fried, the former CEO of crypto companies FTX and Alameda Research, which collapsed under liquidity issues, and, eventually, allegations of fraud this fall.

Bankman-Fried was arrested on December 12 in the Bahamas, extradited to the U.S., and is facing charges including conspiracy to commit wire fraud and money laundering.

He is reportedly expected to enter a not-guilty plea in court in Manhattan on Tuesday.

But the company's name still seems to be tangled up with the arena in Miami, which was known as the American Airlines Arena from 1999 to 2021, and, as of March 2021, FTX Arena.

At the time of the deal, FTX was a crypto golden child, and also snapped up partnerships with the likes of Major League Baseball and the Washington Wizards, per NPR.

Related: Who Is FTX Founder Sam Bankman-Fried and What Did He Do? Everything You Need to Know About the Disgraced Crypto King

After FTX filed for bankruptcy, Miami-Dade County released a statement with the Miami Heat saying it would be moving to "terminate" its connection with FTX and find "a new naming rights partner for the arena." People were spotted removing the company's logo from the stadium, per local news outlet WPLG.

The new FTX CEO John J. Ray III, who is leading the group of companies through the bankruptcy process, called the company's actions "old-fashioned embezzlement."

Two top executives, Caroline Ellison, former CEO of Alameda, and Gary Wang, an FTX co-founder, have pleaded guilty to fraud-related charges.

Related: Who Is Caroline Ellison, Stanford Grad and Former CEO of Alameda Research?

The County also took more traditional legal action. It filed a motion on November 22 to nix the deal with FTX, saying that it needed to be able to find another sponsor, per NPR.

"There are material defaults that leave the County with no choice but to seek authority from this Court to terminate the Naming Rights Agreement effective immediately," the motion reads.

There was reportedly a hearing in mid-December to discuss the issue. The County did not immediately respond to a request for comment on an update on the case.

Related: 'I'm Sorry. That's The Biggest Thing.' Sam Bankman-Fried and Cryptoworld Lose Big in FTX Meltdown, Company Files For Bankruptcy.

FTX signed a $135 million deal over the stadium naming rights. After the Heat's portion of $40 million and a $5.2 million payment to Superlative Group, which negotiated the deal, the County was due to receive about $90 million from FTX, per the Wall Street Journal.

The company has paid over $19 million so far. That cash, which was promised for gun violence prevention, was used in efforts including police equipment and money for camps in the summer for children and sports clubs, the outlet added, citing public records.

FTX still owes its $5.5 million payment, which was due January 1.

It's unclear how long the projection lasted and who was responsible. The arena did not immediately respond to Entrepreneur's request for comment.

Gabrielle Bienasz

Entrepreneur Staff

Gabrielle Bienasz is a staff writer at Entrepreneur. She previously worked at Insider and Inc. Magazine. 

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