Crypto exchange FTX is in talks with Miami-Dade County in Florida to sponsor the basketball arena that houses the Miami Heat, a professional basketball team, according to the Miami Herald.
The Herald reported Friday that FTX is “getting closer” to signing a deal with Miami-Dade County, which owns the stadium and is legally responsible for naming rights. According to the news outlet, an unidentified party registered ftxarena.com, as well as similar social media handles. American Airlines is the current name sponsor for the arena.
Should the deal go through, FTX would become the first crypto exchange to sponsor a major professional sports venue in the U.S.
The talks are another sign that crypto is breaking into the mainstream in 2021 amid new price highs, institutional and corporate investments and the growing use of non-fungible tokens (NFTs) in the art world.
FTX founder and CEO Sam Bankman-Fried responded to a request for comment with the “eyes” emoji (). Bankman-Fried, who also runs Alameda Research, a crypto trading firm, has been an active participant in the cryptocurrency industry over the past year, particularly in the decentralized finance (DeFi) and crypto derivatives trading sectors.
He also donated $5 million to the U.S. presidential campaign of Joe Biden.
The National Basketball Association (NBA) is no stranger to cryptocurrency projects. The league has been a major player in the NFT space, working with Dapper Labs on Top Shot, which tokenizes short video clips of NBA highlights.
The Miami Heat has a personal connection to NBA Top Shot, with shooting guard Tyler Herro providing the vocal introduction to new users on the platform.
A spokesperson for Miami-Dade County did not immediately return a request for comment.
Zack Voell contributed reporting.