MLB in Talks With Legal Counsel Regarding FTX Partnership as Cryptocurrency Firm’s Bankruptcy Puts Sports Deals in Doubt
MLB is speaking with its legal counsel to decide how best to proceed regarding its partnership with the now bankrupt cryptocurrency firm FTX, sources tell SportTechie. Sources close to the league indicated that MLB is concerned and closely monitoring the situation.
The history of Major League Baseball dates back to the 1800s, but FTX became the first ever brand to have its logo appear on the uniform patches of umpires beginning at the 2021 All-Star Game in Denver and continuing through the 2022 season. Shortly after MLB signed its reported five-year deal with FTX in June 2021, the league hosted its MLB Moon Blasts Pick ‘Em contest presented by FTX that offered $50,000 worth of Bitcoin to be deposited into the winner’s FTX account. MLB held a similar prediction contest with FTX that promoted a $100,000 grand crypto prize this past season.
As recently as Nov. 5, MLB’s twitter account shared a World Series home run highlight video that was presented by FTX. The Miami Heat have terminated its stadium naming rights deal with FTX while both the Golden State Warriors and Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team have suspended their promotions of the crypto brand. Should MLB eventually decide to end its relationship with FTX, the last time the brand’s logo will have appeared on an MLB field was during Game 6 of the World Series at Minute Maid Park in Houston.
Ironically, the Astros’ ballpark was previously named Enron Field from 2000 to 2002 before the energy company declared bankruptcy amid its notorious accounting fraud and corruption scandal. “Enron was once the Derek Jeter of American corporations — young, dynamic, full of promise,” Edward Wong of The New York Times wrote in 2002 after the Astros prematurely ended its 30-year, $100 million deal with Enron.
That scandal was at the tail end of Web1 and the beginnings of Web2 in the early 2000s. The demise of FTX comes after the collapses earlier this year from fellow crypto brands Voyager and Terra, which spent this past MLB season promoting its worthless cryptocurrency as part of the Terra Club at Nationals Park in Washington DC.
The sports industry’s hopeful embrace of Web3 now must grapple with FTX’s footprint that spans several of the business’s favorite buzzwords. An Instagram post from FTX in June highlighted The Sandbox, Decentraland, and Axie Infinity as the “3 most popular crypto-powered metaverses.” FTX has also made NFT collections for partnered teams such as the Heat, Warriors, Washington Wizards, and Washington Capitals.