BitPay and ESPN Events have closed a four-year sponsorship deal during which the yearly post-season college football game that’s played in St. Petersburg in Florida will be branded as Bitcoin St. Petersburg Bowl.
The deal is one of the most high-profile promotional campaigns yet for a company associated with bitcoin and was closed at a time when the virtual currencies continues to make significant headway into conventional businesses, said the Wall Street Journal.
In an announcement today, BitPay and ESPN Events said the branding would be effected at this year’s December 26 game and would remain every year through the 2016 event.
ESPN will show the event live. BitPay will also accept bitcoin payments for sold tickets, which will start at $40 each, and merchandise.
BitPay is upbeat that the new bitcoin sponsorship deal will help promote the virtual currency to a wider, mainstream market.
“Our goal is to continue to move bitcoin into the mainstream and sponsoring the St. Petersburg Bowl offers us that opportunity. College football fans and the bitcoin community represent similar target demographic – tech-savvy men between the ages of 18 and 40 [years old],” BitPay executive chairman Tony Gallippi is quoted by CoinDesk as saying.
BitPay’s entry into college football sponsorship comes at a time when retailers and other merchants have started to embrace bitcoin. Satellite TV service Dish Network and travel website Expedia Inc have over the past three weeks announced they would start taking bitcoin payments.
In the prior six months, firms including internet-based retailer Overstock.com Inc, NBA team the Sacramento Kings and virgin Galactic, which provides space travel services, started accepting payment in the virtual currency.
Although the latest arrangement is the first bitcoin promotion for a sports event aired on live television, it’s not the first associated with cryptocurrency. The first was dogecoin, which sponsored Josh Wise of Nascar in a deal worth $55,000.
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