Staples Center becomes Crypto.com Arena in Named Rights Agreement

Staples Center gets a new name for Christmas: Crypto.com Arena.

The downtown Los Angeles headquarters, home to the Lakers, Clippers, Kings and Sparks, will wear the new name for 20 years under an agreement between the Singapore-based cryptocurrency exchange and AEG, the owner and operator of the arena, have both sides announced on Tuesday. Crypto.com has paid more than $ 700 million for the naming rights, according to sources familiar with the terms, making it one of the largest naming deals in the history of the sport.

For the record:

5:22 pm November 17th 2021An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated that AEG owns the Oakland Coliseum. It operates but does not own the headquarters.

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

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

“In the next few years, people will look back on this moment as on the moment when cryptocurrencies crossed the chasm into the mainstream,” Marszalek said when he was joined at his Hong Kong home.

“This is such a brilliant move by the guys at AEG, because the next decade belongs to cryptocurrencies,” he said. “And that puts Los Angeles and this particular venue right in the middle.”

AEG owns a number of sports teams, including the Kings and Galaxy, and venues including LA Live and London’s O2 Arena. It runs the Oakland Coliseum and is one of the nation’s largest event promoters, producing Coachella, among others.

CEO Dan Beckerman said a blockchain finance company was the right thing for downtown Los Angeles

“It’s a bit of a match made in heaven when you think about the type of brands we like to partner with,” Beckerman said. “Crypto.com is looking for the most unique branding platform to make a statement and drive adoption, and we are looking for an innovative and forward-thinking company to help us chart a course for the future of sporting and entertainment events.”

AEG and Crypto.com are still considering exactly how far the partnership will go beyond the name, but integrating cryptocurrency payments into the arena and online shopping may be on the horizon.

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

The legendary venue got its original name in December 1997, when then-burgeoning 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 secure at the time.

“When we knew we were selling the arena, no one knew what it was, no one knew what it could be. The city center was very different from what the city center is today, “she said.

But after Staples Center became home to Lakers teams, Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal led to three consecutive championships in the early 2000s, after the central neighborhood around downtown transformed into a revamped neighborhood. tourist and residential, and after the venue became a frequent guest at major events such as the Grammys, its place in the city’s cultural landscape has solidified.

Staples signed an agreement in 2009 for perpetual naming rights – but AEG repurchased the naming rights for an undisclosed sum in 2019. The pandemic suspended the search for a new sponsor, but the deal with Crypto.com quickly ended after the conversations began at the end of the summer.

Staples’s fortunes have declined since the late 1990s, but the office supply 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 has been officially banned in China, even though the company claims to comply with all relevant regulations in the countries it operates in. Marszalek has never attended a game at the Staples Center; the Christmas game will be his first visit.

But AEG’s Beckerman said he was impressed by the company’s commitment to the arena. “The long-term piece of this is actually more important to us and they shared that vision,” Beckerman said. He described AEG as “bullish” on cryptocurrencies in the broadest sense.

With 10 million users and 3,000 employees, Crypto.com is a major player in the world of cryptocurrencies. Its core business is running an exchange that allows users to trade cryptocurrencies, store them in an online account and access them with a Visa rewards debit card, but it also has an NFT wing, cryptocurrency payment software, its own token and many other products in process. Marszalek declined to share specific data, but said the company hit profitability in early 2021 and has seen revenue grow 2000% over the past year.

The Staples Center renaming is the latest stage in a marketing blitz for the cryptocurrency firm. A new announcement unveiled by the company in October introduces Matt Damon intoning the “four simple words that have been whispered by the intrepid since Roman times … luck favors the brave”. In November, a handful of billboards bearing that motto were posted 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 UFC, Formula 1 racing, Philadelphia 76ers, Montreal Canadiens, Italian football league Lega Serie A, Paris Saint-Germain Football Club and Twitch Rivals, the eSport category of the livestreaming service, in the latest year .

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

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

in a Morning consultation survey in September, people who self-identified as avid sports fans were nearly three times more likely to say they were familiar with cryptocurrencies than those who had no interest in sports – 66% avid fans versus 23 % non-fans – and some sports leagues have dabbled in blockchain products in recent years.

In October 2020, the NBA teamed up with a Canadian crypto company, Dapper Labs, to create NBA Top Shot, a collection of NFT which allowed fans and speculators to buy and sell crypto tokens linked to NBA highlight clips (think digital trading cards). By March, the Top Shot market had become one of the hottest corners of the NFT craze, amassing $ 230 million in sales, mostly on the secondary market.

Since then the Top Shot market has cooled down, although the total NFT market has continued to grow, but the total value of Top Shot NFTs is still at an estimated $ 740 million.

Los Angeles isn’t the first NBA arena to get a crypto rebranding. In March, cryptocurrency exchange FTX, a company run by the “richest man in cryptocurrencies”, according to Forbeswhich recently moved its headquarters from Hong Kong to the Bahamas, signed a $ 135 million deal for 19-year naming rights for the Miami Heat arena, formerly named after American Airlines.

Crypto.com has paid more than five times as much for the Los Angeles arena rights, but Marszalek isn’t worried the investment might fail. “There’s no doubt in my mind that it was worth it,” he said. “My belief level is 100%.”

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