At least one cryptocurrency exchange seem to be settling into the accustomed round of corporate donorship that creates name recognition with the public. FTX.US, affiliated with global crypto exchange FTX, has given Cal Athletics (University of California, Berkeley) $17.3 million for the right to call the field at field at California Memorial Stadium “FTX Field” for ten years.

FTX has been creating recognition with other strategic donations as well:

FTX has been on a sports and e-sports sponsorship spending spree this year. In March, the exchange secured the naming rights to the home arena of NBA team Miami Heat for a reported $135 million, while in June, the exchange paid $210 million to acquire the naming rights for e-sports organization TSM. The latest deal involves FTX featuring its branding on press backdrops and launching a platform with Cal Athletics to support philanthropic projects.

Tanzeel Akhtar, “FTX Signs $17.5M Deal to Sponsor UC-Berkeley Athletic Department” at Coindesk (August 23, 2021)

A key element of the deal is payment in cryptocurrency:

Cal and FTX share a connection in FTX.US’s Chief Operating Officer Sina Nader, who earned his bachelor’s degree in legal studies from Cal and was also a walk-on member of the Golden Bears football team during his time there.

Nader commented on the agreement, “We’re excited to partner with one of the world’s great universities and expand crypto’s presence into the collegiate athletics landscape. This historic partnership will also allow us to collaborate on charitable initiatives that align with our organization’s core values. Personally, I am excited to work alongside my alma mater to collaborate with local communities around a variety of causes. In the spirit of giving back, we are also committing an additional $200,000 on top of this partnership, which will specifically be used to help fight homelessness in Berkeley, and to support organizations that help underrepresented student groups at UC Berkeley.”

FTX.US, “Cal Athletics and FTX Unveil 10-Year Landmark Relationship” at Cision PR Newswire

That amounts to saying that Berkeley buys the idea of cryptocurrency — and not just in principle. The institution expects to pay its own expenses with it.

All very mainstream. But, without buying into Warren Buffett’s characterization of cryptos as “rat poison squared,” one can argue that the field may require bigger, broader transitions than naming…