As Bitcoin began approaching $60,000 over the past week, a mark it hit for the first time ever on Saturday, Oakland Athletics team president Dave Kaval saw a “serendipitous” opportunity, as he describes it: the team charges $64,800 for a six-person suite for the full season.
So, the A's announced on Sunday, fans can now buy one suite for the 2021 season for exactly 1 Bitcoin. It's the first MLB franchise to price its tickets in crypto. Fans have until April 1 to take the team up on its offer.
One obvious financial question: What happens if Bitcoin falls big before then, below $60,000 or even lower? Fans would be getting an enormous discount on a suite. “That’s part of the romance of the whole situation,” Kaval told Decrypt by phone on Sunday night. “We’ve always been an organization that wants to innovate, and that’s not to say this is an offer that will still be around in 10 years, but if you don’t try to innovate, it’s never going to happen.”
Kaval became Athletics president in 2016, but prior to that was with the San Jose Earthquakes, which became the first Major League Soccer franchise to accept Bitcoin in 2014. Kaval says it was the experience with the Earthquakes that sparked this offer, along with requests from A's fans.
“We've had customers and fans interact with me on Twitter and Instagram or even email me asking about it,” Kaval said. “So on some level, this is a response to customer demand. And when we saw enough of those data points, and when we also saw that the Bitcoin price was approaching our suite price, it was a perfect storm.”
Great idea On it https://t.co/uWvFmTDxM9
— Dave Kaval (@DaveKaval) March 14, 2021
In the NBA, the Sacramento Kings and Dallas Mavericks both accept Bitcoin for tickets or merchandise, but Mavericks owner Mark Cuban told Decrypt earlier this month that the team has still only sold $314 worth of goods in exchange for Bitcoin.
As the price of Bitcoin keeps rising, does anyone really want to spend it? Most want to hold onto their Bitcoin as an investment.
“I think some people will do it,” Kaval said. “I think, especially if their Bitcoin has appreciated in value a lot, people will. Right now it’s being used more as a store of value, but I think its use as a transaction medium will increase over time, and we’re hopeful our product offering will help with that. I think you just need it to be adopted in more places, and MLB, the oldest and most tradition-bound of the professional sports, doing it in our industry is a bellwether moment for people to realize it is in the mainstream, it does provide value to customers.”
Bitcoin adoption more broadly in the sports industry has caught fire over the past year. The NBA has had major success with its NBA Top Shot NFT platform, run by Dapper Labs; crypto exchange FTX is reportedly in talks to buy the naming rights to the Miami Heat arena; NFL star Rob Gronkowski is currently auctioning off a collection of NFTs commemorating his four Super Bowl wins.
“I think this is going to continue, there will be more,” Kaval said. “And I think it’s well beyond the point where it’s a fad.”