Real Estate

Staples Center in Los Angeles to be renamed Crypto.com Arena


The Staples Center in Los Angeles, one of the best-known sports and entertainment arenas in the US, is being rebranded as the Crypto.com Arena, the first such name change since the 20,000-seat venue opened its doors in 1999.

The Singapore-based cryptocurrency platform has agreed to pay more than $700m for the naming rights to the downtown Los Angeles complex for the next 20 years, according to people familiar with the transaction. The rebranding will take effect on Christmas Day, with physical signage expected to change by June 2022.

As well as securing a big windfall for AEG, the owner and operator of the arena, the deal marks one of the most eye-catching marketing ploys from a cryptocurrency company to date and comes as digital coins gain wider acceptance among retail investors.

The arena is home to four professional sport franchises — basketball’s Lakers, Clippers and Sparks, and ice hockey’s Kings — and ranks alongside Madison Square Garden, New York, as one of the most popular concert venues in the US.

Kris Marszalek, Crypto.com chief executive, said: “In a few years down the road, people will look back at this day and they will think OK, this is the moment that cryptocurrencies kind of crossed the cosmos into the mainstream.”

Asked if the company planned to use cryptocurrency to pay AEG for the naming rights, Marszalek said: “No, we won’t, it’s just a straight cash deal.”

He added: “There may be some initial resistance to the idea of [the name] change, I think that’s quite natural. But we are ready to work with the local community and prove to them that this is a change for the better and help build a better future for LA and the fans”.

As a marketing product, stadium naming rights have a mixed record in the US, with the titles of some urban sports and entertainment venues becoming synonymous with bankruptcies, takeovers or scandals. Examples of the so-called “stadium curse” include the erstwhile Enron Field in Houston and Sports Authority Field in Denver, which was named after the now-defunct sporting-goods retailer.

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Staples, the Massachusetts-based office supply retailer taken private by Sycamore Partners in 2017, has been the title sponsor of the Los Angeles Arena since it opened. In 1999, the retailer paid $120m for naming rights for 20 years. Halfway through the term of the deal, Staples paid an undisclosed lump sum to retain those rights in perpetuity.

AEG, which also owns and operates the O2 Arena in London and the Mercedes-Benz Arena, Berlin, ultimately decided to buy out Staples’s lifetime rights in early 2019, according to Todd Goldstein, chief revenue officer.

He said that the Staples name had become stale and that AEG wanted a new branding partner with “the ability to impact the next generation of fans over the next two decades”.

In selecting a cryptocurrency sponsor “we think there is a future and we think there is a need for this industry”, he added.

Founded in 2016, Crypto.com ranks as the tenth-largest exchange worldwide for spot cryptocurrency transactions. Its volumes totalled about $1.8bn in dollar terms over a recent 24-hour period, compared with more than $40bn on the largest exchange, Binance.

Sports sponsorships have become a popular marketing tool for retail crypto platforms. Italian Serie A clubs AC Milan and Lazio have this year signed partnerships with crypto companies Bitmex and Binance, respectively, while Major League Baseball has agreed to make FTX its official cryptocurrency exchange.

Crypto.com has existing sponsorships with Ultimate Fighting Championship, football club Paris Saint-Germain, and basketball’s Philadelphia 76ers. 

Additional reporting by Eva Szalay in London



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