SBD/January 17, 2014/Franchises

NBA Kings' Bitcoin Move Furthers Progressive Reputation, Caters To Tech-Savvy Fans

The NBA Kings becoming the "first major pro sports team in America" to accept Bitcoin online currency gave "fresh legitimacy to a technology that's dimly understood and still fighting for acceptance among consumers and merchants, while burnishing the Kings' reputation as a forward-thinking organization," according to a front-page piece by Kasler & Lillis of the SACRAMENTO BEE. However, the team said that the move is "simply another means of becoming fan-friendly." Kings President Chris Granger said the team "has a growing number of tech-oriented fans, and we think (bitcoins are) yet another way to make the experience for those fans more seamless and hassle free." Kasler & Lillis note the team is partnering with Atlanta-based BitPay to "process all of the Kings' Bitcoin transactions." BitPay VP/Marketing Stephanie Wargo said that the company "converts bitcoins into dollars for merchants like the Kings, though the Kings’ owners have signaled they plan to keep some of their proceeds in Bitcoin instead of immediately converting to dollars." But Kasler & Lillis write keeping the funds in Bitcoin "potentially would expose the Kings to the wild price fluctuations that have become a hallmark of the currency in recent months" (SACRAMENTO BEE, 1/17). Kings Managing Partner Vivek Ranadive said that he "isn't concerned about the extreme volatility in the virtual currency's exchange rate because over time he expects to see increased trading and transactions in the currency and the development of more sophisticated exchanges and derivatives instruments." He added that he "expects other NBA franchises to follow his lead" (WSJ.com, 1/16). Ranadive: "We pride ourselves on being the first franchise of the 21st century. We want to be cashless, we want to be ticketless ... and Bitcoin facilitates all of that" ("Squawk on the Street," CNBC, 1/17).
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