Terra Wants to Spend $40M on a Mystery Sports Deal. We Think It’s With This MLB Team

A CoinDesk reporter turns internet sleuth to crack the team name Do Kwon won’t identify.

AccessTimeIconFeb 8, 2022 at 10:13 p.m. UTC
Updated May 11, 2023 at 7:18 p.m. UTC
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The Terra ecosystem has a mystery on its hands: Which professional sports team will be the recipient of nearly $40 million in crypto sponsorships?

I don’t have the answer, but I think I’ve formulated the next best thing. Come with me down the rabbit hole to see what I see. Because I’m pretty sure I know who it is.

Our whodunit begins late Jan. 31 with a tweet from Do Kwon, the founder of Terraform Labs and a key steward of a blockchain that now holds $12.5 billion in locked assets. He’s got a juicy pitch for his LUNAtics, as the network’s faithful go by: LUNA token holders will get to vote on greenlighting a professional U.S. sports sponsorship. A big one, too: 40 million UST.

That’s the price – denominated in the network’s dollar-pegged, algorithmic stablecoin – that LUNAtics must “yea” to emblazon their name on this “legendary” franchise’s finest stadium club for five glorious years.

But there’s a catch: Kwon says he can’t reveal which team it is. Lawyers won’t let him, he explains.

Alas, there’s no way around it. Terra’s voters must approve the WHAT to find out the WHO. And there’s plenty of WHAT to go around. Kwon’s community proposal describes every inch of the planned Terra sponsorship, right down to the pixel count on closed-circuit television ads (400x850).

If token holders were bothered by the informational disconnect they haven’t shown it. Over 98% of participating token allotments were in favor of moving forward with about four hours left on the clock.

Ignoring uncomfortable questions this opaque setup prompts – about decentralized governance, power imbalances, rubber-stamping, vote gamification – Kwon’s proposal presents an opportunity for enterprising internet sleuths.

And so I set out to crack the code.

Let’s begin with the sample size. Kwon’s proposal mentions North America’s four big sports leagues: Major League Baseball (MLB), the National Football League (NFL), the National Basketball Association (NBA) and the National Hockey League (NHL). In all, we have 124 teams at play but fewer stadiums, given common venue-sharing arrangements between basketball and hockey teams. But I think we can narrow it down to MLB alone.

Why? Consider Kwon’s community proposal:

“The Club is also ideally situated on national TV broadcasts. It will introduce the Terra brand and provide exposure of our ethos to a diverse and expansive group of people who enjoy watching the team and sport on both TV and in-person. In particular, it grants Terra exposure to a national audience that may not have any other avenues for brand exposure to Terra.”

Baseball fits better than any other league. Only in baseball do broadcasters regularly capture off-field action because only in baseball do the cameras return to one point: home plate.

Many baseball franchises position their VIP lounges directly behind home plate. It’s the best place to view each pitch from the stands, commanding high ticket prices from well-connected fans looking for amenities the nosebleeds simply can’t offer. It’s also the only seating area that television viewers regularly see in a game broadcast.

“Ideal,” you might say.

The sample size is now 32.

We could choose to unpack Kwon’s linguistic minutiae for clues that narrow the field. For example, I’d only call a handful of franchises “household names;” the label “legendary” applies to fewer still.

I don’t need to rule out the Miami Marlins. That hapless franchise rules itself out of the National League East just fine. You can’t say the same about their division rivals, the Nationals.

Though “legendary” may be a stretch, the Nationals, winners of the 2019 World Series, are my guess for the Terra proposal.

Their ballpark fits the bill. Here’s a run-down of my digital evidence:

From the proposal:

  • “Terra brand placement on 5 massive, rotating LED boards hosted on the exterior of the Venue”

From my research:

  • The Nationals (controversially) moved to install five massive LED billboards in 2017.

From the proposal:

  • “In addition, this consists of an LED Fascia Ribbon display of the Terra brand across 580 feet of LEDs inside the Venue.”

From my research:

  • Nationals Ballpark boasts “over 600 feet” of LED Fascia Ribbon.

From the proposal:

  • “67% of Club Season Plan holders have an individual income greater than $125K.” “42% of Club Season Plan holders hold a postgraduate degree.”

From my research:

  • Only two MLB teams use the phrase “season plan holders” to describe what most would call a “season ticket holder.” They’re the Nationals and the Orioles. And the Nationals use the phrase much more frequently.

One final clue: The Nationals’ home plate club (“The Nationals Club”) has been sponsorless since Delta flew off ahead of the 2021 season.

I emailed the Nationals asking about sponsorship opportunities. They didn’t get back to me.

When reached via Twitter DM, RealVision co-founder Remi Tetot (who is listed in the proposal as a trustee of the Terra Community Trust), said he could not comment until after the vote passed.


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Danny Nelson

Danny is CoinDesk's Managing Editor for Data & Tokens. He owns BTC, ETH and SOL.

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