SailGP Introduces Fan-Owned Team, Pioneering a New Era in Sports Ownership
SailGP, the renowned racing league on water, has made history by becoming the first global sports league to revise its rules of participation to allow for the creation of a community-owned and managed team. The newly established Fan-Owned Team (TISI) will be owned and operated by a community built on NEAR (NEAR), with the assistance of organizations like Bernoulli Locke facilitating this revolutionary shift in sports team ownership.
The concept of decentralization and fan ownership has long been championed by proponents of DAOs and the broader web3 landscape. The idea resonates with the existing engagement of fans, who already participate in activities like assembling brackets in fantasy football, placing bets on platforms like DraftKings, and even voting on the attire of Arsenal football players. It seems logical that fans should have the opportunity to go beyond traditional support by purchasing tickets, wearing merchandise, or following on social media, and instead directly participate in the economic aspects of their favorite sports teams.
SailGP Leads the Way in Decentralized Sports Ownership with Fan-Owned Team
However, implementing this vision is no easy task. Previous attempts to merge sports and web3 have often been experimental rather than utility-based, such as the NFL offering free commemorative NFTs to a limited number of game attendees.
With the flexibility granted by SailGP, a Fan-Owned team now has the chance to set a precedent in the sports industry. Ben Johnson, Senior Vice President of U.S. Strategy and Commercial Development at SailGP, explains, “To many, we are a new sport, and it’s the first time they’ve seen hydrofoiling boats race at nearly 100 kmph in close proximity. We identified where SailGP could be more agile compared to other sports. There’s no better way to showcase fan affinity than by actually owning a part of a team.” In order to make this innovative concept a reality, SailGP has revised its rules of participation to allow for the entry of a DAO-owned team in the global championship.
The proposed DAO structure will ensure that members have the right to vote on crucial decisions, ranging from the team’s name, flag, and colors, to the selection of the team’s leader and athletes. The SailGP Fan-Owned team is focused not only on winning races, but also on building a vibrant community and fostering new friendships.
To bring this vision onto the blockchain, SailGP has partnered with NEAR Protocol. Ilia Polosukhin, co-founder of NEAR, explains, “Without a legacy setup, we can experiment and do novel things, including co-building amazing experiences for fans and DAO members.” He hopes that the SailGP Fan-Owned Team will address the existing challenges in traditional sports structures, particularly the disconnect between teams and their fans. NEAR’s role also includes providing engineering support, such as smart contract work and assisting web2 users new to web3 with FastAuth, a feature that allows them to create a wallet in just 5 seconds, without the need for complex hashes or self-custody risks.
NEAR is also planning partnerships with other brands in the sports, entertainment, and fashion industries. Polosukhin highlights the demand from brands that have lost their connection with consumers, stating, “In Web3, we create direct relationships between fans and their favorite brands or sports teams.”
The uniqueness of this initiative lies in the democratization of participation in professional sports. Traditionally, investing in a professional sports team required multimillion-dollar investments and connections to executives and conglomerates. The SailGP Fan-Owned team has been designed to comply with current securities regulations, allowing both fans and accredited investors to take on the challenge of team ownership.
Fans interested in investing will need to act swiftly, as Bernoulli Locke, the organization capitalizing on SailGP’s amended rules of participation, plans to close token sales in September of this year. Their goal is to have the team on the water by the start of SailGP Season 5 at the end of next year. In the first year of operations, no secondary market offerings will be available to comply with securities laws and identify long-term investors and sports enthusiasts, as opposed to short-term traders.
Among the early investors is former NBA All-star player Baron Davis, who expresses his support for investing in culture and having ownership alongside fans. Davis states, “As a former professional athlete, it’s empowering to see ownership handed over to the fans. It’s an exciting next chapter for the future of sports, and I plan on being active in the ownership community to get the first-ever Fan-Owned SailGP team on the water and racing.”
The decentralization and proof of ownership features of web3 allow for distributed participation, token-gated access to live and digital experiences, and deeper involvement with the sports that fans love.