Some Sports Teams Now Venturing Into Bitcoin

Jul 30, 2019
Originally published on July 29, 2019 3:29 pm

Professional and collegiate sports teams have begun to experiment with cryptocurrency. Some have tried it and backed away, while others have strict limits. Some even allow ticket purchases with it.

The Cincinnati Bengals passed when reportedly asked to pay a salary in Bitcoin. Buffalo Bills' backup quarterback Matt Barkley says he asked his previous team to pay in cryptocurrency, but the Bengals said no, according to Morgan Creek Digital's Anthony Popliano.

On the issue of cryptocurrency, Bengals Spokesperson PJ Combs says, "This just isn't a topic the team wishes to comment on."

Barkley isn't the only one asking to be paid in cryptocurrency. Russell Okung of the Los Angeles Chargers, tweeted "Pay me in Bitcoin" in May. 

The Cincinnati Reds say the team would never comment on how a player is paid but in terms of concessions, Delaware North, the concessionaire, says it has never received a request to pay in cryptocurrency.

FC Cincinnati says it doesn't have any plans to incorporate cryptocurrency into its payment structure.

But there are teams embracing it.

A team spokesman confirms the Dallas Mavericks will start taking cryptocurrency for season tickets.

The Miami Dolphins limit cryptocurrency to split-the-pot. Spokesman Jason Jenkins referenced the team's statement.

"Through the partnership, the Miami Dolphins, Litecoin and Aliant Payments intend to give home game attendees the ability to pay with Litecoin and Bitcoin when purchasing tickets for the team’s 50/50 raffle, where half of the proceeds benefit the Miami Dolphins Foundation and its charitable causes. The 50/50 raffle tickets can be purchased both online and at 14 kiosk and raffle seller locations throughout Hard Rock Stadium."

It was as early as 2014 that the Sacramento Kings delved into cryptocurrency. But Public Relations Director Kari Ida passed on an interview saying, "At this point we don't have a ton to say on this topic." The Kings mine cryptocurrency for charity at Golden 1 Center.

Georgia Tech also started accepting Bitcoin in 2014 for its concessions. But because nobody paid in cryptocurrency, the service was discontinued.

The Victoria Harbourcats, a summer collegiate baseball West Coast League, appears to be the first team to accept cryptocurrency for tickets.

University of Cincinnati Assistant Professor of Sport Administration Jason Simmons, Ph.D., says it comes down to teams positioning themselves as tech savvy. And it could make buying things easier.

"Cryptocurrency purchases and payments allow us to cut down on the time of transactions," he says. "It allows people to not bring their wallets to the game and it cuts down on some problems with cash transactions."

However there are some downsides, he says, particularly when it comes to sending your kid to a game. "Parents give their kids cash to purchase food or drinks or maybe a t-shirt, but they are less likely to give their kids their credit card and certainly not their cell phone account info to be able to exchange in cryptocurrency," he says. 

Despite that, teams are moving ahead with cryptocurrency. Some are doing advertising deals.

The Cleveland Cavaliers recently partnered with UnitedCoin. The cryptocurrency company will have signage inside Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse and become the official partner of the basketball franchise's e-sports affiliate.

The Houston Rockets also have a cryptocurrency partnership with the mining firm AntPool.

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