The A’s are jumping into the cryptocurrency craze and will offer box suites for the price of one Bitcoin for the 2021 regular season, the team announced Sunday.
“I think it shows that it’s becoming more mainstream,” A’s President Dave Kaval told Glen Kuiper and Dallas Braden during Sunday’s NBC Sports California broadcast. “We want to do everything we can to be inclusive in the way people can do transactions. We’re starting with suites but this could move into regular tickets, individual tickets. It could be concessions, it could just be part of the experience.
“Especially with a lot of the younger people who use the cryptocurrency, it’s a great way to appeal to them and say, ‘Hey, where can use this store of value?’ Come out to the ballpark. Come out to the Coliseum.”
So, how much is one Bitcoin worth in U.S. dollars? That depends on when you ask.
Bitcoin’s market price has been infamously volatile since its inception in 2009. As of this writing, the value for one Bitcoin is hovering around $54,000, down about 10 percent from the $60,000 when the A’s made offer public on Sunday. That’s a 24-hour swing. But a year ago, one Bitcoin was worth about $5,000.
Kaval, who noted the team’s proximity to Silicon Valley, used to accept Bitcoin as payment for hot dogs when he was with the San Jose Earthquakes in 2011.
He also said he invested in Bitcoin at the time, when it was trading from $1 to $32. Nice return.
So, you're probably asking, what is Bitcoin?
That’s a whole Pandora’s box of an explanation that doesn’t belong in a sports blog, but here we go. The idea emerged 12 years ago from a mysterious online creator/group named Satoshi Nakamoto, whom has since faded into obscurity. Among the goals of Bitcoin is to remove third-party institutions like banks from the transfer of money from peer-to-peer and decentralize currency as to protect it from government inflation.
Essentially, Bitcoin is a digital asset that is earned by computers who solve complex equations and validate other transactions as part of the decentralized Bitcoin network. Once the transactions are validated by the network, they are appended to an immutable public ledger (hence, crypto), and so it goes with the next transaction. In a nutshell, this is the essence of blockchain technology that has infiltrated the mainstream and is behind new crazes like the NBA Top Shot non-fungible tokens.
It’s not exactly the gold rush that brought the original 49ers, but the computers validating and transacting are considered to be “mining” and then rewarded for their work via Bitcoin. There are now entire companies dedicated to farming and hoarding Bitcoin, which can also be acquired and sold by retail traders.
This is something of a gamble for the A’s given Bitcoin’s up-and-down nature, but they are helping their own cause with this move. Kaval said season-long suites cost $64,000 in cash, so that'll be their Bitcoin price target for 2021.
If this becomes a proven business model for sports franchises, it could help legitimize the Bitcoin market and make it more accepted, driving up the price of the asset the A’s received for the suite. Recently, companies like Tesla have announced they will be accepting Bitcoin as payment, adding to the momentum. Carolina Panthers tackle Russell Okung reportedly converted half of his $13 million 2020 contract into Bitcoin.
Likewise, if the price of Bitcoin crashes (again), a lucky fan could get a six-person suite all season long for the price of a hot dog.