In 2014, ESPN and BitPay established one of the first notable crypto-marketing initiatives.
Since then, sports teams, tournaments, racing teams, and even individual sporting matches have all made crypto partnerships.
Some of the earliest partnerships took place abroad with European football clubs. But now, as more and more people are using cryptocurrencies, crypto firms have become an integral feature in the landscape.
Add the effects of COVID-19 into the mix, pushing people away from live sports for almost two years, and you have a disparate, global sports fan base looking for a way to reconnect.
With this in mind, the NFL owners meeting in Palm Beach, FL concluded that teams could pen sponsorship deals with crypto firms. It wouldn’t be the first in the pro sports arena, as the NBA has also partnered with crypto.
Dallas Cowboys partner with Blockchain.com
The Dallas Cowboys, the NFL’s highest-valued team, struck first by announcing the first NFL crypto-partnership with Blockchain.com earlier this month.
The team hasn’t announced the price of the deal, but, by comparison, crypto.com bought the naming rights to the Staples Center (home to the Lakers, Clippers, Kings, and Sparks) last year for $700 million.
Blockchain.com CEO Peter Smith said in response to the deal:
“We chose to partner with the Cowboys because they represent the most trusted brand in professional sports, they compete with a champion mindset and believe in long-term partnerships. Growing up in rural America where football is deeply rooted in the culture, I’m incredibly honored to join forces with the world’s most valuable sports franchise and the Jones family, who have dedicated their lives to building a first-class franchise on and off the field for 33 years.”
For his part, Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones added the following:
“Blockchain.com is one of the oldest and most trusted digital asset platforms in the world, has easy-to-use products and remains relentlessly focused on customers. They are bringing Wall Street to Main Street by making digital assets available to anyone, anywhere in the world – and that’s a touchdown for our millions of global fans. We take pride in being the first team in the NFL to sign an official cryptocurrency partnership, and are proud to venture into this innovative business with Blockchain.com.“
What this deal means for fans
The Blockchain.com deal means that the crypto firm will have an obvious visible presence at AT&T Stadium and in the various media forms where the Cowboys are distributed.
- A club space for Blockchain.com at AT&T Stadium
- The right to social and digital content across Dallas Cowboys platforms
- Signage in the stadium
- TV and Radio advertising spots
Jerry Jones is no stranger to novel partnerships. In 2018, the Cowboys became the first team to partner with a casino. They signed a deal with Winstar Resort in Thackerville, OK.
The Cowboys and the NFL have, for the moment, offered only a limited range of options for using crypto technology. They have not yet allowed cryptocurrency as a form of payment at AT&T Stadium, but they will allow for exclusive fan experiences that include trips to away games with VIP-level experiences as well as opportunities to attend special events hosted by players.
However, as other leagues (especially international football leagues) have shown, cryptocurrencies can pay for:
- Food and drinks at games
- In some cases, player contracts
Looking to the future of crypto in sports
Cryptocurrencies, NFTs and blockchain technology continue to take hold of professional sports, and sports betting. If and when legalized Texas online sports betting happens, crypto will have already established an early foothold through this partnership.
Having gubernatorial candidate Beto O’Rourke make a pitch for Texas to get legal sports betting could have an impact. How much remains to be seen.
Owners like Jones and Mark Cuban (Dallas Mavericks) also need to continue to put pressure on the state Legislature to keep up with the evolving world of online sports gaming and entertainment, to integrate the mechanics of the industry into their teams and venues.
To those hoping to see gambling legalized in Texas, these partnerships keep the issue current and visible. Something that will appeal to those 50-50 voters should sports gaming make it onto the ballot.