SBD/June 19, 2014/Marketing and Sponsorship

Title Sponsorship Of St. Petersburg Bowl Game Marks Bitcoin's First Major Sports Play

The college football postseason game played at Tropicana Field for the next three years will be known as the Bitcoin St. Petersburg Bowl "as part of a sponsorship deal between bitcoin payment processor BitPay and ESPN Events,” according to Michael Casey of the WALL STREET JOURNAL. The arrangement “marks one of the most high-profile marketing initiatives yet for a bitcoin-related business” and is the currency's first sponsorship for a “televised U.S. sporting event.” Tickets, which will “start at $40 each,” and associated merchandise also will be “available for purchase with bitcoin.” The bowl game “previously bore the name of the Beef O'Brady's chain of sports-themed restaurants” (WSJ.com, 6/18). In Tampa, Susan Thurston noted BitPay "approached ESPN about the title sponsorship after a fan held up a sign asking his mom to send bitcoins during the broadcast” of ESPN's “College GameDay” at Auburn last year. Bowl officials expect BitPay's involvement will “generate interest in the game beyond sports” (TAMPABAY.com, 6/18).
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