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

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

Perth Heat, who play in the Australian Baseball League, will also sell merchandise, club memberships and tickets with bitcoin after partnering with cryptocurrency payments firm OpenNode.

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The self-styled “Bitcoin Baseball Team” announced on Wednesday that it had appointed a chief bitcoin officer to shift its corporate treasury from Australian dollars to bitcoin.

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

A baseball cap with the bitcoin symbol imposed on the Perth Heat logo is among the merchandise on offer in the club’s online store

(Perth Heat)

Perth Heat CEO Steven Nelkovski said: “We firmly believe that the mindset that bitcoin imparts on network participants will be felt by our players, coaches, staff, and our loyal fan base and we look forward to setting the bar for how much value a sports organisation can bring to a community in the bitcoin age.

“We know the community looks to the Perth Heat as a model of success and we hope our adoption of a Bitcoin Standard will inspire others to embrace a monetary system that demands value creation to thrive.”

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

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

“In the next few years, people will look back at this moment when crypto crossed the chasm into the mainstream,” CEO Kris Marszalek told the LA Times. “The next decade belongs to crypto.”

The home to fellow NBA team Miami Heat also saw its stadium receive a crypto-themed rebranding earlier this year after a $135 million deal with cryptocurrency exchange FTX.


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