SBJ/May 19-25, 2014/Franchises

Quakes will accept Bitcoin at stadium

If you’re looking to buy tickets to an MLS match in San Jose and then buy a Chris Wondolowski jersey and a few hot dogs while you’re there, you can now do it with Bitcoin.

The San Jose Earthquakes will become the first professional sports team to accept the virtual currency for all purchases when the team hosts Houston at Buck Shaw Stadium on Sunday. The Earthquakes will have point-of-sale processing at the stadium’s box office, concession stands and merchandise tents.

“Bitcoin has primarily been used to buy things online,” said Earthquakes President Dave Kaval. “We’re providing a chance for people to use it in the real world.”

The Sacramento Kings started accepting Bitcoin in January but only for purchases through the team’s online store. Coinbase, a San Francisco-based Bitcoin dealer and payment processor, is the Earthquakes’ partner for Bitcoin.

“The average Bitcoin user is male, in his 20s and 30s, and tech-savvy,” said Adam White, director of business development and sales of Coinbase. “This could drive new fans to Earthquakes matches because Bitcoin users have never had the opportunity to use it at a major league game.”

On Bitcoin purchases, the club is paid dollar-for-dollar. Coinbase charges a 1 percent fee for payment processing, but not until its clients surpass $1 million in purchases with Bitcoin — so it will be a while before the Earthquakes have to pay Coinbase.

“Consumers buy and sell Bitcoin on our platform,” White said. “We charge a 1 percent fee for Bitcoin purchased, so anything that promotes the use of Bitcoin is good for our company.”

Bitcoin originated in 2009. The currency, which is stored in digital wallets, is not controlled by any country.

Kaval thinks it pays to innovate. “There was a time long ago when you couldn’t use credit cards at ballgames,” he said.

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