When members of USA’s softball team return home from the 2020 Tokyo Olympics to play in the second season of Athletes Unlimited’s professional softball league, they will find themselves part of the red hot NFT collectibles market. The league is seeking innovative ways to capitalize on softball’s international exposure from the Olympic Games, and tap into a market which has exploded to over $2.5 billion in transactions during the first six months of this year.
Athletes Unlimited has partnered with the Atlanta based GigLabs to produce interactive NFTs for both its women’s lacrosse and softball leagues. They will be available to fans who attend the games and matches in-person, using GigLabs’ proprietary NFT Bridge platform, which allows brands to easily customize its NFT marketplaces.
“We are excited about how our partnership with Athletes Unlimited will let fans experience on-demand NFT collectibles when they attend participating sporting events,” said GigLabs CEO and Co-Founder Douglas Dimola. “Athletes Unlimited is leading the way for leagues to deliver an enhanced game-day experience while also providing a way for fans to collect and trade memories of their favorite sports moments.”
Softball returned to the Olympics for the first time since 2008, with the United States earning a silver medal after losing to Japan 2-0 in the gold medal game. Many Team USA’s members, including Cat Osterman, Kelsey Stewart and Janie Reed will be playing in Athletes Unlimited’s second softball season which starts August 28th in Chicago. Athletes Unlimted’s CEO Jon Patricof views this NFT launch as a way to reward fans who attend the games live.
“Through this partnership with GigLabs, Athletes Unlimited is able to offer the opportunity for our fans to be among the first to become collectors of these unique digital assets” Patricof said.
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The first Athletes Unlimited NFT debuted during its opening lacrosse match and will continue through the remaining five weeks of the season. Fans can expect an expanded offering during its softball season.
One integration fans will see from this partnership between GigLabs and Athletes Unlimited is the use of GigLabs’ RareRooms technology. RareRooms provides a 3D virtual display of the NFT collectibles, which allows fans to openly display their curated collections.
As for monetization, the league’s initial plan is to use these exclusive NFTs to create an immersive fan experience. As the league further integrates the NFTs throughout the season, Patricof says they will analyze how they can produce revenue on both the primary and secondary markets.
“At the moment, our focus is driving fan engagement and building the connection between the league, our players and fans,” Patricof said via e-mail. “Over time, we see the opportunity to commercialize NFTs both in primary and secondary markets in a way that will benefit the players through their stake in the profits from the league.”