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Staples Center becomes Crypto.com Arena in name rights deal


Staples Center changes its name for Christmas: Crypto.com Arena.

The downtown Los Angeles site – home of the Lakers, Clippers, Kings and Sparks – will bear the new name for 20 years as part of an agreement between the Singapore Cryptocurrency Exchange and AEG, the owner and operator of the arena, the two sides announced on Tuesday. Crypto.com has paid over $ 700 million for naming rights, according to sources familiar with the terms, making it one of the biggest naming deals in sports history.

The new arena logo will debut on December 25, when the Lakers host the Brooklyn Nets, and all signage at Staples Center will be replaced with the new name by June 2022.

Crypto.com chief executive Kris Marszalek hopes the new name will be seen as a sign of the times.

“Over the next several years, people will see this moment as when crypto broke the chasm into the mainstream,” Marszalek said when contacted at his home in Hong Kong.

“It’s such a brilliant move from the guys at AEG because the next decade is in crypto,” he said. “And that puts LA and this particular place at the center of it.”

AEG has a number of sports teams, including the Kings and Galaxy, and venues including LA Live, Oakland Coliseum, and London’s O2 Arena. It is one of the biggest promoters of events in the country, notably producing Coachella.

CEO Dan Beckerman said a blockchain finance company was just right for downtown LA

“It’s kind of a perfect match, when we think about what kind of brands we like to partner with,” Beckerman said. “Crypto.com is looking for the most unique brand platform to make a statement and drive adoption, and we’re looking for an innovative, forward-thinking company to help us chart a course for the future of sporting and entertainment events. “

AEG and Crypto.com are still figuring out how far the partnership will go beyond the name, but the integration of cryptocurrency payments into the arena and online shopping could be on the horizon.

Visitors will see a clear change at the entrance to the LA Live arena, next to the Magic Johnson statue, where 3,300 square feet will become a dedicated Crypto.com “activation space” featuring interactive crypto experiences. centric for sports or music fans. Crypto.com has also signed with the Lakers and Kings as an official crypto partner.

The legendary venue received its original name in December 1997, when the then booming Staples Inc. paid $ 100 million for the rights for 10 years. Beckerman, who was AEG’s chief financial officer when the arena complex was first developed, said the name’s value was less certain at the time.

“When we sold the arena, nobody knew what it was, nobody knew what it could be. The city center was very different from what it is today, ”he said.

But after Staples Center became the home of the Lakers teams Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal led to three straight championships in the early 2000s, after the downtown district around the center turned into a A revived tourist and residential district, and after the place became a frequent host to major events such as the Grammys, its place in the city’s cultural landscape solidified.

Staples signed an agreement in 2009 for the naming rights in perpetuity – but AEG bought out the naming rights for an undisclosed sum in 2019. The pandemic has suspended the search for a new name sponsor, but the Crypto deal .com concluded quickly after conversations started at the end of the summer.

Staples’ fortunes 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 21 years. Crypto.com is 5 years old and relies on a form of cash that has been officially banned in China, although the company says it complies with all relevant regulations in the countries where it does business. Marszalek has never attended a game at Staples Center; Christmas play will be his first visit.

But AEG’s Beckerman said he was impressed with the company’s engagement in the arena. “The long term part of it all is actually the most important to us, and they shared that vision,” Beckerman said. He described AEG as “bullish” on the cryptocurrency more broadly.

With 10 million users and 3,000 employees, Crypto.com is a major player in the crypto world. Its main business is running an exchange that allows users to trade cryptocurrency, store it in an online account, and access it with a Visa Rewards debit card, but it also has an NFT wing, a cryptocurrency payment software, its own token and a number of other products in the works. Marszalek declined to share specific numbers, but said the company reached profitability in early 2021 and saw revenues increase 2,000% in the past year.

Renaming Staples Center is the latest phase of a marketing blitz for the crypto firm. A new advertisement unveiled by the company in October with Matt Damon intone the “four simple words which have been whispered by the intrepid since the days of the Romans … fortune favors the brave”. In November, a handful of billboards bearing the motto were installed in cities around the world and the company ran a full-page ad in the Wall Street Journal featuring it.

The company has also signed partnership agreements with the UFC, Formula 1 racing, the Philadelphia 76ers, the Montreal Canadiens, the Italian football league Lega Serie A, the Paris Saint-Germain Football Club and Twitch Rivals, the esports category of the live streaming service, over the past year. .

The goal, Marszalek said, is not only to increase brand awareness and market share, but to highlight the growing standardization of cryptocurrency in American society.

Marszalek said Crypto.com has “an ambition to become one of the top 20 brands over the next 3-5 years, alongside names like Nike or Apple,” with popular sports serving as a gateway to adoption. massive.

In a Morning Consult survey in September, people who identified as avid sports fans were almost three times more likely to say they were familiar with cryptocurrencies than those who were not interested in sports – 66% of fans enthusiasts versus 23% among non-fans – and some sports leagues have dabbled in blockchain products in recent years.

In October 2020, the NBA partnered with a Canadian crypto firm, Dapper Labs, to create NBA Top Shot, a collection of NFTs that allows fans and speculators to buy and sell crypto tokens linked to music videos. NBA highlight (think digital trading cards). By March, the Top Shot Marketplace had become one of the hottest corners of the NFT craze, racking up $ 230 million in sales, mostly in the aftermarket.

The Top Shot market has since cooled, although the total NFT market has continued to soar, but the total value of NFT Top Shot still stands at approximately $ 740 million.

LA isn’t the first NBA arena to have a new crypto branding. In March, the FTX cryptocurrency exchange – a business run by “the richest man in crypto”, according to Forbes, which recently moved its headquarters from Hong Kong to the Bahamas – signed a $ 135 million deal for the 19-year-old’s naming rights to the Miami Heat arena, formerly named after American Airlines.

Crypto.com has paid more than five times as much for the rights to the LA arena, but Marszalek is not worried the investment will materialize. “There is not a shadow of a doubt in my mind that it was worth it,” he said. “My level of conviction is 100%. “