WASHINGTON, D.C. — Terra may be on the ropes after last week’s dramatic death spiral, but the cryptocurrency’s name is still loudly emblazoned at the ballpark of Major League Baseball’s Washington Nationals.
As the team wrapped up a series against the visiting Houston Astros on Sunday, CoinDesk went to see if the $38.5 million advertising deal had worked. Were people at the ballpark aware of Terra or its UST stablecoin? Had anyone bought the asset, now worth far less than a penny, when it was trading at $115 on opening day just a few months ago?
Responses from the stadium’s employees and patrons would suggest not. Few had heard of Terra’s demise despite the attention it captured in the cryptosphere, with even fewer owning the asset or any cryptocurrency, for that matter. One elevator operator said Terra was Latin for “dirt.”
Nevertheless, Terra may be a name Nationals fans eventually come to recognize. In February, LUNAtics rubber-stamped a proposal to place the blockchain’s name on in-stadium branding for the next five years, with payment for the deal being made up front and in U.S. dollars.
The deal includes Terra’s logo being stitched into the high-priced seats behind home plate, which are highly visible on television broadcasts, as well as the naming rights to the “Terra Club,” the stadium’s all-inclusive dining lounge reserved for luxury fans.
Whether the Nationals hold up their end of the deal remains in the air, as do plans to accept payments in UST slated for next season. Representatives of the franchise declined CoinDesk’s repeated requests for comment, and were not available for interviews at Sunday’s game.
Crypto entities seeking out sports sponsorships like the Nationals’ deal with Terra have been a regular occurrence in the past year. Another MLB sponsorship was from the crypto exchange FTX, whose logo can be seen on the uniforms of the game’s umpires. While the Nationals’ deal with Terra isn't the only protocol tie-up in the league (Tezos sponsors the New York Mets, for example) it’s certainly the first high-profile blowup.
But corporate sports sponsorships have a storied history of going south. Enron Field (a $100 million naming-rights deal that lasted just two of its intended 30 years) and Webvan (whose logo remained on 42,000 cupholders at the San Francisco Giants ballpark long after it went bankrupt in the 2001 dot-com crash) are notable MLB flops.
That’s not to say the Nationals faithful were completely in the dark about Terra. One man seated in the Terra Club was well aware of the multibillion-dollar implosion; on Sunday he was telling his friends how that one coin went to zero.
The fan told CoinDesk he held no crypto and wasn’t keen on changing that, especially after Terra. An ardent Nationals fan, he expressed something between dismay and grumbling acceptance for a deal the Nationals did “for the money.” He was happy to hear Terra paid up front.
Of the roughly two dozen people CoinDesk spoke with, only one, an usher in a nearby section, knew the details of last week’s stunning collapse, expressing something like wonder at the fact an asset trading above $100 was now virtually worthless.
Another, a bartender inside the Terra Club, knew Terra was some sort of “bitcoin” and seemed to know it had had a rough week. She said she had no money to invest in it and no plans to, but had heard it would “come back.”
The Astros went on to defeat the Nationals by a score of 8-0 on Sunday, finishing off the series sweep behind five strong innings from perennial ace pitcher Justin Verlander.
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