Baseball team to pay players in bitcoin in world first for professional sport

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An Australian baseball team has become the first professional sports team in the world to pay its players and staff in bitcoin.

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The Perth Heat, which plays in the Australian Baseball League, will also sell merchandise, club memberships and tickets with bitcoin following a partnership with cryptocurrency payments firm OpenNode.

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The self-styled “Bitcoin baseball team” announced on Wednesday that it has appointed a chief bitcoin officer to move its corporate coffers from Australian dollars to bitcoin.

“As part of the sporting world, Perth Heat will hodl bitcoin on the club’s balance sheet,” the club said in a press release.

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A baseball cap with the bitcoin symbol emblazoned on the Perth Heat logo is among the items offered in the club’s online store.

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A baseball cap with the bitcoin symbol emblazoned on the Perth Heat logo is among the items offered in the club’s online store.

Steven Nelkowski, CEO of Perth Heat, said: “We strongly believe that the mindset that the Bitcoin network bestows on participants will be felt by our players, coaches, staff and our loyal fan base and we look forward to setting the bar. They are how much sport is worth the organization can bring to a community in the bitcoin era.

“We know that the community sees Perth Heat as a model of success and we hope that the adoption of the bitcoin standard will inspire others to adopt a monetary system that calls for value creation.”

After high-profile sponsorship deals for Premier League football clubs and even corporate naming rights for stadiums, Perth Heat is the latest sports franchise to adopt cryptocurrency.

The famed Staples Center in Los Angeles, home of the LA Lakers basketball team, will soon be renamed Arena following a $700 million deal between the cryptocurrency platform and venue owner AEG, which will remain in place until 2041.

“In the next few years, people will see the moment crypto crossed the gap into the mainstream,” said Chris Marszalek, CEO of LA Times. “The next decade belongs to crypto.”

The home of fellow NBA team Miami Heat also received a crypto-themed rebranding earlier this year, following a $135 million deal with cryptocurrency exchange FTX.


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