It is a page in the history of American basketball which is closing and another, more futuristic, which is opening. As of December 25, the legendary Staples Center, which hosts the Los Angeles basketball teams (Lakers, Clippers and Sparks), as well as ice hockey (Kings) will change its name, or rather sponsor, to become the “Crypto.com Arena”. A deal historic, in particular for the amount mentioned: various sources across the Atlantic speak of a 20-year contract amounting to 700 million dollars, or 35 million per year.
“This partnership is the fastest growing cryptocurrency platform and the world’s largest live sports and entertainment company converging to drive the future of sports and entertainment and the incredible legacy of this arena for decades to come,” said Todd Goldstein, Chief Revenue Officer of AEG, the stadium owner, on Wednesday when the partnership was announced.
A growing influence of cryptocurrencies and NFTs in the world of sport
It had been 22 years since its opening in 1999 that the 20,000-seat arena bore the name of Staples, an American office supplies giant. The successor, Crypto.com, is in a very different business: it is a platform that acts as a cryptocurrency exchange, where you can consult and exchange these virtual currencies, sometimes valued at several thousand dollars. euro per unit, for the most expensive (BitCoin, for example, currently valued at more than 57,000 dollars, or Etehereum, at just over 4,000) or NFTs. A young company, founded in 2016 and based in Singapore, which has already forged important links in the world of sport, notably by becoming a partner of Paris Saint-Germain this year, but also by having signed partnerships with Formula 1, Serie A or the UFC.
An extremely symbolic change that does not only make people happy, in the immediate future. “It’s a bit harsh, Lakers fans and sports fans in general know this stadium as the Staples Center, said Frank Vogel, the Lakers coach. I can understand the disappointment of the fans. But it is the evolution of our world. “Russell Westbrook, 2017 MVP, native of the region and Lakers player since this summer, prefers to honor the building itself: “As a child who grew up in LA, I have many good memories with the Staples Center. So many great things have happened in this building, whatever the name. The building itself is always the building. And that is what is most important. »
This historic partnership, which would potentially be the most expensive sports naming contract in history, marks the increasingly important place taken by cryptocurrencies and NFTs (non-fungible tokens, or “non-fungible tokens”, collectible objects dematerialized). In France, PSG had in particular caused a stir by announcing that part of Leo Messi’s salary would be paid in “Fan Tokens”, the club’s cryptocurrency published since 2018 in partnership with the Socios platform, which claims more than 40 partnerships with football clubs around the world and dozens more in other sports. A development that echoes the resounding success of the French start-up Sorare, a fantasy football platform combining cryptocurrency and collectible football cards.