The San Jose Earthquakes, a soccer club from California, is banking on the growing popularity of bitcoin in Silicon Valley as it prepares to launch bitcoin payments at its stadium box office, concession stands and gift store.
Bitcoin integration at the team’s Buck Shaw Stadium will take place on 25th May, in time for the Earthquakes’ match with Houston Dynamo. Coinbase is acting as the stadium’s bitcoin payments processor, leveraging the exchange’s tablet app to accept payments.
Team President Dave Kaval told CoinDesk that the the organization became interested in bitcoin thanks to nearby Silicon Valley’s strong association with the digital currency, saying:
“We felt that, talking to a lot of our fans, especially in Silicon Valley, there were people who had inquired about whether or not we actually accepted bitcoin in the stadium. That kind of fed off inquiries on our side.”
The Earthquakes are planning on integrating bitcoin payments at a number of key areas at Buck Shaw Stadium. Game attendees can use bitcoin to buy tickets at the box office and additionally will be able to pay for concessions at certain locations and buy merchandise at the stadium gift shop.
Kaval said that while not every point-of-sale terminal will be ready to accept bitcoin on 25th May, he said that more support will be added soon after.
He noted that the Earthquakes team is expecting a strong turnout for bitcoin-using customers, saying that many people in the area are familiar with digital currencies and are looking for opportunity to spend their bitcoins:
“I think we’re gonna have more people than we think. I think it will attract a lot of new fans and people.”
Kaval suggested that, like credit cards, bitcoin could easily be integrated as an alternative payment method at sports arenas and and other entertainment centres, adding that it’s a matter of allowing the technology to catch on with consumers:
“If you think back to the ’80s or early ’90s, you would go to a lot of places and they wouldn’t accept credit cards. Especially concerts and things like that – it was all cash. So think about how far that’s come.”
Kaval went on to say that integrating bitcoin enables entertainment venues to tap into payment methods that are easiest for customers. Otherwise, venues run the risk of failing to capitalize on that nascent demand.
Other sports clubs have adopt bitcoin as a form of payment this year. In March, Polish soccer club GKS Katowice announced that fans could use bitcoin to pay for tickets and buy merchandise.
At the start of the year, the Sacramento Kings became the first NBA team to begin accepting bitcoin payments. The franchise later opened a bitcoin-only online store.