Crypto Startups Lose Manchester City, FC Barcelona Sponsorships

By Andrew Cohen

European soccer powerhouses FC Barcelona and Manchester City have each backed out of recent sponsorship deals with cryptocurrency companies due to transparency concerns with both businesses. 

 On Nov. 12, defending English Premier League champion Manchester City named 3Key Technologies a regional partner to provide the club with “decentralized finance trading analysis and advisory technology.” But Manchester City suspended the deal after media reports pointed out 3Key’s website had no contact details and its purported staff had no digital footprint, according to The Associated Press

 “Manchester City is now conducting further enquiries regarding 3Key Technologies, and the partnership has been suspended pending satisfactory resolution to all of those enquiries,” the club said in a statement on Friday.

 Barcelona announced its deal with Ownix on Nov. 5 to create NFTs that fans could purchase using Ethereum. The La Liga club canceled the deal on Friday after Moshe Hogeg, a businessman who provided consultation to Ownix, was arrested on Thursday for alleged fraud related to cryptocurrencies, according to The Times of Israel. Hogeg is also the owner of Israeli soccer team Beitar Jerusalem. 

UBS Arena and New York Islanders Partner with Venuetize to Enhance the New Venue Experience

Belmont Park, NY (November 22, 2021) — UBS Arena at Belmont Park and the New York Islanders have teamed up with Venuetize, leaders in mobile-first and advanced payment technology, to deliver a new mobile experience.

Now available for download in the Apple Store and in Google Play, the UBS Arena App delivers new ways to interact with UBS Arena and the New York Islanders through enhanced experiences for event goers. 

The UBS Arena app is your key to unlocking your experience at UBS arena. It allows users to: 

  • Easily retrieve Ticketmaster tickets and parking passes
  • Order food, beverage, and select merchandise items
  • Transact using the Mobile Wallet or pay with Apple Pay at point-of-sale and for mobile ordering
  • Access Season Ticket Member benefits through UBS Arena and Islanders Member Pass, as well as stored and loaded value integrated into the Mobile Wallet
  • Get quick answers to questions via Chatbot (ask UBS Arena)
  • Leverage interactive maps, as well as travel and transportation information to help get from point A to B throughout your visit

“UBS Arena guests are already benefiting from a more personalized and enjoyable mobile experience powered by Venuetize,” said Lindsay St. Lawrence, Chief Product Officer at Venuetize. “This partnership between our organizations enables more ways to engage and reward guests, including the ability for mobile ordering and payments during their visit.” 

“We are hyper-focused on the experience of those who walk through our doors,” said Ethan Brown, Sr. Vice President, Marketing and Community Relations for UBS Arena and the New York Islanders. “Mobile plays a key part in unlocking all that is available at UBS Arena and we look forward to working with Venuetize to continue to bring the latest in mobile-first technology to all visitors of UBS Arena.” 

For more information, please visit: 

About Venuetize: 

Venuetize is the leading mobile technology and advanced e-commerce platform for the sports, hospitality, and entertainment industries. The company’s proven platform (PaaS) connects technology ecosystems, facilitates e-commerce, and delivers cutting edge mobile-first experiences. With 185+ third-party integrations and counting, Venuetize provides unmatched flexibility to create an easier, safer, and more enjoyable experience for guests. Founded in 2014, Venuetize works with professional sports teams, stadiums and arenas, casinos, entertainment districts, and shopping destinations across the globe. For more information, visit

About UBS Arena: 

UBS Arena at Belmont Park is made for music and built for hockey. New York’s newest premier entertainment and sports venue and home of the New York Islanders is developed in partnership with Oak View Group, the New York Islanders, and Jeff Wilpon with Sterling Project Development serving as development manager.. The state of the art arena will host more than 150 major events annually while delivering an unmatched live entertainment experience including clear sightlines and premier acoustics. In an effort to build a greener future, UBS Arena intends on being carbon neutral for operations before 2024, which will make it the first arena to do so on the eastern United States seaboard. 

Located on the historic grounds of Belmont Park, UBS Arena is located less than 15 miles from both JFK and LaGuardia Airports, and is accessible via car and ride share at exits 26A, 26B, and 26D off of the Cross Island Parkway. For guests using the Long Island Railroad, UBS Arena will be accessible to East and Westbound travelers at the Queens Village LIRR station, Eastbound travelers at the brand-new Elmont Station (accessible Westbound in Fall 2022), and via the Belmont Spur station, operating from Jamaica on event-days only. In addition to the Long Island Rail Road, the arena is also accessible via MTA Bus Routes Q2 and Q110 and the Nassau County Inter-Express N6 bus service. 

Upcoming events at UBS Arena at Belmont Park includes the New York Islanders versus the New York Rangers on November 24, the Islanders versus the Pittsburgh Penguins on Friday, November 26, the venue’s opening concert with Harry Styles on November 28, Eric Church on Saturday, December 4, Genesis on Friday, December 10 and a sold out Sebastian Maniscalco show on December 27. For additional information, please visit or @UBSArena on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. 

About New York Islanders: 

Founded in 1972, the New York Islanders Hockey Club is the proud winner of four Stanley Cup Championships and nineteen consecutive playoff series victories. The Islanders have had nine members inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame and play in the National Hockey League’s Eastern Conference. 

The Islanders Children’s Foundation has helped countless youngsters in need around the world since its inception. Donations are raised through the efforts of our players, management, and employees, along with our fans and partners. 

UBS Arena at Belmont Park is the team’s new, state of the art home starting this season. 


Media Contacts: 

Albert Pujols, Breanna Stewart, Marshawn Lynch and RGIII Help Fund Hologram Venture Portl

By Andrew Cohen

Hologram display device Portl has raised $12 million from an investment group that includes three-time National League MVP Albert Pujols, Phoenix Suns center Deandre Ayton, WNBA stars Breanna Stewart and Nneka Ogwumike and former NFL players Marshawn Lynch and Robert Griffin III.

Music artist Quavo also invested in the Series A round, which was led by True Capital Management. Portl’s full-size machine is about seven-feet tall, five-feet wide and costs $60,000. It livestreams 4K volumetric video to produce a hologram-like display that Portl wants to bring to markets such as sporting events, concerts, healthcare, corporate work and education.

“CEOs, brands, universities, as well as crypto artists are all using Portl to connect and communicate in entirely new ways. Portl is going to change the way we work, learn and play forever,” David Nussbaum, founder and CEO of  the Los Angeles-based Portl, said in a statement.

Portl has already completed projects with brands such as HBO, Netflix, Chase Bank, T-Mobile and AT&T.

Buffalo Sabres Add In-Venue Broadcast Audio Streaming Through Mixhalo

By Dominic Massimino

The Buffalo Sabres have announced a new partnership with Mixhalo to stream real-time audio to fans in-venue during games. The Sabres will be the first NHL team to adopt Mixhalo’s sound technology, joining teams such as the NBA’s Sacramento Kings and MLS club LAFC

 Mixhalo will connect fans to live play-by-play commentary from Sabres commentators, as well as other fan experiences through the company’s free mobile app. The Sabres will also consider using Mixhalo to stream audio commentary from players.

 “With this being RJ’s [Sabres broadcaster Rick Jeanneret] last season, we know it’s important for fans at KeyBank Center to hear the calls of our legendary broadcaster during his final season behind the mic, along with all games going forward,” Sabres SVP of marketing and business strategy John Durbin said in a statement. 

The Sabres announced in April that only vaccinated fans would be allowed to attend home games at KeyBank Center this season. Mixhalo was co-founded by Mike Einziger, the guitarist for popular 1990s rock band Incubus. 

A Trio of Past FanDuel Execs Launch Sports Wagering Firm BetDEX

By Joe Lemire

Three former FanDuel executives, including founding CEO Nigel Eccles, have launched a blockchain-based, decentralized sports betting company, BetDEX. The Edinburgh-headquartered BetDEX raised a $21 million round, the largest seed investment for any UK startup.

BetDEX will rely on public blockchain Solana and plans to offer fast, low-cost trades. Its protocol will be open-sourced, enabling partners to build products on top of the platform. Paradigm, a crypto investment firm, led the round and was joined by FTX, the cryptocurrency exchange that has been an active sponsor in sports with a naming rights deal for the Miami Heat’s arena and a global partnership with MLB.

Eccles, who will serve as the non-executive chair of BetDEX, co-founded FanDuel in 2009 and started sports group chat platform Flick in 2018. Varun Sudhakar, who worked in senior strategy and corporate development at FanDuel, is BetDEX’s CEO, while FanDuel’s first engineering hire, Stuart Tonner, is the new company’s CTO.

“Blockchain technology is set to revolutionize sports betting and we want to be at the forefront of that,” Eccles said in a statement. “It’s exciting to be founding the business with Varun and Stuart, and to be building it in Scotland. We are energized to have the backing and wealth of expertise that comes with having Paradigm and FTX as cornerstone investors.”

CJ McCollum Scores Crypto Sponsorship With StormX

By Andrew Cohen

StormX, a crypto rewards company and jersey patch sponsor of the Portland Trail Blazers, has announced a partnership with the team’s star guard CJ McCollum. As a brand ambassador, McCollum will take part in StormX events hosted at Portland’s Moda Center and appear in marketing content for the company.

Users can earn cash back in the form of Bitcoin and Ethereum by making purchases with retail partners of StormX, which include brands such as Nike, eBay, Adidas, Sonos and Macy’s. The company’s mobile app has more than four million downloads and has given more than $4 million in crypto this year. 

Cryptocurrency companies have infiltrated the NBA sponsorship arena through venue naming rights deals with the Miami Heat and Los Angeles Lakers and Clippers, as well as the league’s partnership with Coinbase. The Trail Blazers’ McCollum is the latest high-profile athlete to ink an individual deal, with fellow shooting specialist Stephen Curry joining Tom Brady and Shohei Ohtani as athletes to have equity in crypto exchange FTX.

Nike Enters the Metaverse With Roblox Gaming Integration

By Andrew Cohen

Nike has partnered with online gaming platform Roblox to launch Nikeland, a virtual world inspired by the apparel giant’s real-life headquarters in Oregon.

The virtual campus includes Nike buildings, basketball courts, fields and arenas for Roblox users to compete in games such as tag, dodgeball and “the floor is lava.” A digital showroom will also let users dress their avatars in Nike gear—ranging from classing sneakers to new product drops. 

Nike’s metaverse will also encourage real-life movement. Users with accelerometers in their mobile phones can jump or run to have their moves replicated by their in-game avatars. In-game activity will also be rewarded with materials for users to build their own mini-games inside Nikeland.

Nikeland plans to add games around global sporting events, such as a potential soccer activation during the World Cup or a flag football game during the Super Bowl, according to CNBC.

The virtual world is initially free-to-play, but Nike could eventually integrate paid offerings. Roblox’s user-generated gaming platform offers in-game purchases through Robux, a virtual currency backed by credit and gift card transactions. 

NFL Fans to Receive Commemorative NFT Tickets for Attending Games

By Andrew Cohen

Fans who buy tickets to select NFL games for the remainder of the 2021 season will receive commemorative NFTs to serve as digital keepsakes. The souvenir tokens yearn to resemble the sentimental value of paper ticket stubs—now an ancient relic due to mobile-ticket only stadiums.

An email will be sent to fans post-game to access their collectible via the NFL NFT marketplace powered by Ticketmaster, where they can sell or trade the tokens. Fans who purchase game tickets through StubHub and SeatGeek will also be eligible to receive the postgame digital collectibles. 

“Creating more one-to-one experiences through innovation and technology is a high priority across the league and clubs,” Bobby Gallo, SVP of club business development at the NFL, said in a statement. “Leveraging the emerging world of NFTs is a new and exciting way for us to create additional value and to further engage with fans who attend select games by providing a virtual commemorative ticket.”

The giveaway NFTs will kick-off with the Thanksgiving matchup between the Chicago Bears and Detroit Lions and continue with 20 more games throughout the regular season. In September, the NFL and NFLPA announced a deal with Dapper Labs to create digital video highlight NFTs.

This summer, the NFL said that 98% of fans used mobile tickets to enter preseason games. Super Bowl LV in Tampa was the first Super Bowl to operate completely cashless, with all future Super Bowls planning to follow suit. 

Rose Bowl Goes Cashless With Tappit Mobile Pay

By Andrew Cohen

Mobile payment provider Tappit has partnered with the Rose Bowl to turn the stadium cashless. Southern California’s iconic college football stadium will now let guests scan QR codes with their phone to order food, drinks and merchandise. 

 Tappit’s QR code activation enables transactions to take place without the need to download an app. In August, QR codes debuted on all 90,000 seats at the Rose Bowl in partnership with Digital Seat Media. Fans at UCLA home games can currently scan the tags to view team stats, Instagram filters and other features. 

 “With Tappit’s white-label web wallet, we’re able to minimize person-to-person contact while still giving fans an exceptional experience. We’ll be able to get a clear view of every single guest and their preferences and understand in greater depth how to make their experience exceptional,” Jens Weiden, chief revenue officer of Rose Bowl Stadium, said in a statement.

 In May, Tappit announced a multi-year deal with college marketing firm Learfield to bring its mobile payment technology into NCAA venues. Tappit’s clients at the professional level include the Jacksonville Jaguars, Kansas City Chiefs, Cincinnati Reds, San Diego Padres and San Antonio Spurs

IOC Removes Its Testosterone Limit for Transgender Athletes

By Joe Lemire

The International Olympic Committee will no longer require transgender women to suppress their testosterone before competing, reversing a ruling from 2015. The committee made the decision to eliminate “medically unnecessary” treatment and to prioritize “the physical, psychological and mental well-being of athletes.”

 In a 10-point document released this week, the IOC wrote: “Everyone, regardless of their gender identity, expression and/or sex variations should be able to participate in sport safely and without prejudice.”

 These guidelines follow the first Olympic Games in which transgender and intersex athletes competed, with the new rules going into effect following the Beijing Winter Games in early 2022. The committee’s new position is to not presume anyone has an unfair competitive advantage because of their genetic differences in sex development (DSD).

 The new IOC framework, however, is not legally binding and abdicates a final decision to each’s sport specific governing body. World Athletics—which oversees track and field—has told the Guardian that it has no plans to change its policies. 

 World Athletics mandates that runners with DSD must artificially reduce their testosterone below a threshold to participate in events between 400 meters and a mile, as it claims higher-testosterone levels give a competitive advantage in those distances. That policy barred South African 800-meter runner Caster Semenya from defending her Olympic title at the Tokyo Games this summer.

 “What we’re saying now is you don’t need to use testosterone at all,” IOC medical director Richard Budgett told the Guardian. “But this guidance is not an absolute rule. So we can’t say that the framework in any particular sport, such as World Athletics, is actually wrong.”

Voler Factory Racing Is Requiring Its Cyclists to Undergo DNA Testing Through AxGen to Prevent Injuries

By Andrew Cohen

California-based cycling team Voler Factory Racing will administer genetic testing on its athletes through its new deal with AxGen. The testing aims to inform Voler of predisposed injury risks facing its cyclists—based on their individual genes—to help fine-tune personal training regimens.

 AxGen’s DNA tests evaluate an athlete’s risk to 13 common sports injuries, including concussions, ACL tears and Achilles tendon ruptures—as well as flagging their tolerance for substances such as caffeine or ibuprofen. The tests are based on machine-learning analysis of AxGen’s genome database of about 500,000 people, compiled by researchers from Stanford University and the University of Utah.

 “Injuries are the number one negative influence on a team’s performance and success, and having access to data that can predict risks is key to us preventing those injuries. We think this is a vital component of sports medicine in cycling,” Voler Factory Racing team manager Philip Mooney said in a statement. 

 English soccer club Sheffield United was the first major pro sports team to require its athletes to undergo genetic testing through AxGen. The club told SportTechie in September that DNA testing will only help design programs to prevent injury, and it has promised players that their results will not impact contract negotiations.

 “It’s scientifically rigorous, and it addresses the idea that all athletes are not created equal, and some of them are going to be at more risk for a knee injury at birth and more at risk for shoulder injury,” Stuart Kim, AxGen’s CEO and a former geneticist at Stanford University, said in September.