The Kansas City Royals found a new way to be relevant in October.
The franchise had its name come up Friday, courtesy of FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried, who is currently on trial in federal court for an array of charges related to the downfall of what was once among the largest cryptocurrency exchanges in the world. FTX declared bankruptcy in November 2022 amid allegations that customer funds had been misappropriated.
Part of how FTX became such a high-profile exchange — and how Bankman-Fried became one of the faces of crypto — was the exchange's array of celebrity endorsements. You've probably seen the commercials, with sports celebrities including Tom Brady, Stephen Curry and Shaquille O'Neal.
One of FTX's biggest coups was securing the naming rights of the Miami Heat's arena in 2021, turning it into FTX Arena at the reported cost of $135 million. That deal came up when Bankman-Fried took the stand Friday in one of the most anticipated moments of the trial.
As TechCrunch's Jacquelyn Melinek documented (no phones or cameras were allowed in the courtroom), Bankman-Fried was asked by his legal team about FTX's other options for naming rights deals. The only other open stadium was the Kansas City Royals' Kauffman Stadium. When asked why FTX chose the Heat, Bankman-Fried reportedly said this:
“No offense, didn’t wanna be [known as] the Kansas City Royals of crypto exchanges."
On the bright side for the Royals, that naming rights deal obviously didn't work out as the Heat or FTX hoped. The Heat ended their deal with FTX soon after its bankruptcy and even took the matter to court to get out of the deal early.
The Heat's arena is now known as the Kaseya Center, named after a Miami software company. Meanwhile, Kauffman Stadium remains Kauffman Stadium, as it has been known since 1993. The Royals might not be there for long, though.
Bankman-Fried is expected to take the stand again Monday, with the potential for cross-examination from the prosecution. The trial has reportedly not gone as Bankman-Fried's attorneys would've hoped (it's unclear if they even wanted him to testify), but a verdict could still be more than a week away.