The Staples Center gets a new name for Christmas: Crypto.com Arena.
The venue in downtown Los Angeles – home of the Lakers, Clippers, Kings and Sparks – will use the new name for 20 years under an agreement between the Singapore Cryptocurrency Exchange and arena owner and operator AEG, both parties said on Tuesday. Crypto.com paid more than $ 700 million for naming rights, according to sources familiar with the terms, making it one of the largest naming agreements in sports history.
The new logo for the arena will premiere on Dec. 25, when the Lakers will host Brooklyn Nets, and all Staples Center signs will be replaced by June 2022.
Kris Marszalek, CEO of Crypto.com, hopes that the new name will be seen as a sign of the times.
“Over the next few years, people will look back on this moment as the crypt crossed the gap into the mainstream,” Marszalek said as he arrived at his home in Hong Kong.
“This is an absolutely brilliant move from AEG’s friends, as the next decade will be under cryptographic surveillance,” he said. “And this puts LA and this particular venue right in the middle of it.”
AEG owns several sports teams, including Kings and Galaxy; and venues including LA Live, Oakland Coliseum and the O2 Arena in London; and is one of the country’s largest event organizers, producing Coachella, among other things.
CEO Dan Beckerman said the blockchain finance company was just the right thing for downtown LA
“It’s a bit like a match made in heaven when we think about what types of brands we want to partner with,” Beckerman said. “Crypto.com is looking for the most unique branding platform to make a statement and promote adoption, and we are looking for an innovative, forward-looking company to help us design a course for the future of sporting and entertainment events.”
AEG and Crypto.com are still exploring how far the partnership goes beyond the name, but the integration of cryptocurrency payments into the arena and online shopping may be on the horizon.
Visitors will see one clear change at the entrance to the arena next to the LA John statue of Magic Johnson, where 3,300 square feet will be dedicated to Crypto.com’s “activation space,” offering cryptocentric interactive experiences for sports or music lovers. . Crypto.com has also signed an agreement with the Lakers and Kings as their official crypto partner.
The storyline got its original name in December 1997, when the then-thriving Staples Inc. paid $ 100 million for the rights for 10 years. Beckerman, who was AEG’s CFO when the arena complex was first developed, said the value of the name was not so certain at the time.
“When we sold the arena, no one knew what it was, no one knew what it could be. The center was very different from the center today, ”he said.
But after the Staples Center became home to the Lakers, Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal led to three consecutive championships in the early 2000s as the downtown area developed into a vibrant tourist and residential area and the venue often hosted major events. like the Grammy Gala, its place in the city’s cultural landscape was strengthened.
In 2009, Staples signed an agreement on naming rights forever – but AEG repurchased the naming rights for an undisclosed amount in 2019. The pandemic halted the search for a new naming sponsor, but the Crypto.com agreement was born quickly after discussions. began in late summer.
Staples ’assets have declined since the late 1990s, but the office supplies company still has more than 1,000 stores across the country and has been on the Fortune 500 list for the past 21 years. Crypto.com is 5 years old and its business is based on a form of money that is officially banned in China – although the company says it complies with all relevant regulations in the countries in which it operates. Marszalek has never participated in a Staples Center game; The Christmas game is his first visit.
But AEG’s Beckerman said he was impressed with the company’s commitment to the arena. “The long-term part of this is actually the most important to us, and they shared that vision,” Beckerman said. He described AEG as “rising” in terms of cryptocurrencies more broadly.
With 10 million users and 3,000 employees, Crypto.com is a major player in the crypt world. Its core business includes a stock exchange that allows users to trade cryptocurrencies, store them online and use them with a Visa Rewards debit card, but it also has an NFT wing, cryptocurrency payment software, its own token and number. other products under construction. Marszalek refused to share exact figures, but said the company achieved profitability in early 2021 and its revenue has grown by 2000% over the past year.
Renaming the Staples Center is the latest step in a cryptocurrency marketing frenzy. New ad released by the company in October features Matt Damon “four simple words that the fearless have whispered since Roman times … happiness favors the brave.” In November, a handful of billboards with this motto spread to cities around the world, and the company published a full-page ad in the Wall Street Journal where it was featured.
The company has also signed partnership agreements with the UFC, Formula 1, the Philadelphia 76ers, Montreal Canadiens, the Italian Lega Serie A, Paris Saint-Germain Football Club and Twitch Rivals, the streaming esports category. last year.
Marszalek said the goal is not only to increase brand awareness and market share, but to highlight the growing normalization of cryptocurrencies in American society.
Marszalek said Crypto.com has “the goal of becoming one of the top 20 brands over the next 3 or 5 years alongside names like Nike or Apple,” and popular sports serve as one gateway to mass use.
In a September Morning Consult survey, people who considered themselves avid sports fans were nearly three times more likely to say they were familiar with cryptocurrencies than those who were not interested in sports – 66% of avid fans and 23% of non-fans. – and some sports leagues have been pursuing blockchain products in recent years.
In October 2020, the NBA partnered with Canadian cryptographic company Dapper Labs to create NBA Top Shot, an NFT collection that allows fans and speculators to buy and sell cryptocurrencies linked to NBA highlights (think digital trading cards). By March, the Top Shot market had become one of the hottest corners of the NFT craze, garnering $ 230 million in sales – mostly in the aftermarket.
The Top Shot market has cooled since then, although the overall NFT market has continued to rise, the estimated total value of Top Shot NFTs is still estimated at $ 740 million.
LA’s isn’t the first NBA arena to get the cryptographic token again. In March, the cryptocurrency exchange FTX – a company led by “the richest man in the cryptography industry” that recently moved its headquarters from Hong Kong to the Bahamas – signed a $ 135 million contract for 19 – year designation rights. Miami Heat Arena, formerly named after American Airlines.
Crypto.com paid more than five times as much for rights to the LA arena – but Marszalek is not worried that the investment may not materialize. “I don’t think there’s any doubt it was worth it,” he said. “My assurance is 100%.”