From a solar-powered sports arena, to bitcoin and now cryptocurrency mining, the Sacramento Kings are back at it, setting the stages for yet another technological blueprint in the technology sector. The NBA organization announced Wednesday, that it has partnered with global cryptocurrency leader, MiningStore.com, to become the first sports team in the world to mine digital currency. That’s right, the Kings can add another “first’ to its scoreboard of ever-growing technological innovations.
The Kings are going crypto! The NBA is going crypto! And, so should fans!
Dribbling Into The Cryptocurrency Space
If you’re an NBA fan, chances are that Sacramento’s announcement doesn’t come as a huge surprise, but the timing of which caught many off guard. In past years, the Kings were voted as one of the most tech-savvy ownership groups in the NBA, alongside the Golden State Warriors and the Dallas Mavericks.
In early 2014, the Kings were the first sports team in the world to accept bitcoin, as reported by Wired Magazine and ESPN. “We have always pushed the envelope when it comes to innovation,” Ryan Montoya, the Chief Technology Officer for the Kings , explained to me over the telephone.
“We were the first team to utilize Twitter, to utilize Google Glass for home-games, and drone technology. But, it wasn’t until we opened our arena, the Golden 1 Center, that fans and the NBA saw how we could utilize technology and innovation, making it a core component of our business.”
Continuing its streak of being at the forefront of technology innovation in the sports space, the Kings truly believe in the power behind blockchain technology. So much so, that the Sacramento King’s Owner and Chairman, Vivek Ranadive, continues to push the team in its mission of revolutionizing the world, the space, and most importantly, the local community.
Skating Where The Puck Is Going
“Opportunity begins when technology allows the world to find innovative solutions to complex problems” –Vivek Ranadive, Sacramento Kings Owner and Chairman
The Kings have created the blueprint in terms of innovation, especially when it came to building an arena centered and powered by technology. By injecting their organization with blockchain technology, Sacramento is able to continue delivering one of the best fan experiences around. “We want to skate where the puck is going,” Montoya emphasized, quoting NHL’s Wayne Gretzky.
“ Two years ago, it was bitcoin; now, it’s about how we are going to utilize blockchain technology . I think it will transform many parts of our business and provide for the ultimate fan experience. The list is endless, just as it is for what the technology can do for other spaces.”
That’s why the team’s partnership with MiningStore.com would prove most beneficial for the organization, and ultimately the fans. Through this partnership, the team will install cryptocurrency mining machines at Golden 1 Center, also known as “Civilization 3.0”. The 100% solar-powered arena plays host to the only Tier-4 data center in a professional sports arena—“something similar to what you would expect at Google or Amazon,” Montoya stated.
Specificially, MiningStore’s “Imperium” model machines will be able to mine Ethereum cryptocurrency, a public, open-sourced Blockchain-based platform. By solving complex mathematical algorithms, these mining machines will have the capabilities to verify other coin user transactions, resulting in proceeds that go directly back to the development and growth of MiningForGood program.
In the wake of GDPR going into effect, as well as the Facebook-Cambridge Analytica and Equifax data breaches, the organization wants its fans to know that its number one priority is ensuring they continue following every best practice possible to minimize any potential breaches. “This is done by taking as many steps necessary to ensure our employees and internal systems are educated, sophisticated, and aware,” said Montoya. Montoya is currently in his fourth season as the Kings CTO, guiding and directing the organization to greater innovative pathways.
According to the CTO, MiningForGood was an obvious and easy choice to make because of their durable and efficient computing systems. “It was an easy call, because it had everything to do with our data center at Golden 1, and everything to do with the systems MiningForGood utilizes; the bandwidth and solar power allows the organization to give back to the community, primarily the Build. Black. Coalition.” The Kings recently partnered with Build Black in efforts to help support workforce development and technology education programs in Sacramento.
MiningForGood Grant Provides For An Educated, 21st Century Workforce
“Our innovative partnership with the Sacramento Kings is an example of how technology can both inspire the next generation entrepreneurs and support the development of a 21st century workforce in Sacramento,” said Chet P. Hewitt, President and CEO of Sierra Health Foundation, and founding member of the Build. Black. Coalition.
But, when it comes to education, not everyone understands the significance, let alone the very foundation of what blockchain technology and cryptocurrency stands for. The Kings recognize the global impact this technology has and are doing what they believe they can to educate not just the community, but their own employees as well, on why blockchain technology is a positive force to be reckoned with. “Whatever we can do to spread the love on this,” Montoya explained, “we are going to do.”
“For example, we teach our own Kings employees that everyone is an innovator here. When we first decided to work with MiningStore, we brought its Founder, JohnPaul Baric in to teach all of our employees about blockchain. Why? Because, at the end of the day, these are just words people are reading; nobody knows what it is.”
Montoya added that when it comes to Kings fans, they really are a “tech-savvy” group and part of their savviness, is how technology has always been at the forefront of the ultimate fan experience—beginning with the design and implementation of Golden 1 Center.
“Fans come into the arena and they see how innovation works—they don’t have to wait in line or in traffic; they don’t have to wait to pay and park—all these problems, we have solved through technology, and our fans have embraced this and seen it in action. This is supported by our use of it in drones, AR/VR, bitcoin, and Google Glass. They’ve become a lot smarter on this technology, and so have we.”
What Does the Future Hold for the NBA?
I asked Montoya what he thought this launch would do for other teams within the NBA, in which his response demonstrated the confidence he and the organization have moving forward. Montoya’s certainty that other organizations will see this and want to jump on board benefits the community as a whole. “At the same time, we really do believe we created the blueprint here. We hope that other teams will either model the same thing, or some version of it, which ultimately benefits everyone.”
It’s only a matter of time before other teams like the Dallas Mavericks and Golden State jump on board. As the Mavericks Owner and Chairman, Mark Cuban, told me in an interview last year, when it comes down to success in a business, you have to re-earn your customers business every day”, and that starts by investing in the infrastructure, and not the speculation, as Herjavec Group’s CEO and fellow ‘Shark’, Robert Herjavec told me in that same interview.