The Sacramento Kings are now accepting Bitcoin. The leading cryptocurrency can be used to buy merchandise at the team's retail store right now, and support for online orders and ticket purchases will arrive on March 1st. The Kings say they're the first professional sports franchise to embrace the virtual currency — which has rocketed in value but still lacks widespread support from retailers and other businesses. "When I sold the NBA on keeping the team in Sacramento, my pitch included using the sports franchise as a social network to push the technology envelope," said Kings majority owner Vivek Ranadive in an interview with ESPN. "This is an example of that." Ranadive also found inspiration at home; his own children "would go to games and ask why we didn't accept Bitcoin," he said.
BitPay will be processing all Bitcoin transactions on behalf of the team; the company will accept the virtual funds and pay the Kings in a more familiar currency: cash. “With BitPay, we are able to implement a technology that allows our fans to make Kings-related purchases without physically reaching into their wallets," Ranadive said in a press release. According to BitPay co-founder and CEO Tony Gallippi, the deal came together during last week's CES. "They had a lot of questions but once we answered them, they were ready to move quickly," he told TechCrunch. "They kicked it into fast mode and took less than a week to close the deal after they realized they could be the first sports team in the US to take Bitcoin."