By Yetnaleci Maya, Dec. 7, 2021
As a born and raised Angeleno, it came as an unwanted surprise that the home of the Lakers would no longer be named Staples Center. After a $700 million deal between Crypto.com and the world’s largest owner of sports teams and sports events, the Anschutz Entertainment Group, it was agreed that the multi-purpose arena that sits at the heart of downtown Los Angeles would be renamed —Crypto.com.
I do not support the naming rights deal because the ownership itself is self-serving. It is yet another step by a big-time corporation into a future that brings uncertainty to our surrounding communities. As gentrification is a growing issue in LA, 18.4% of LA residents live below the poverty line, and the average family income of four is $24,000 per year. Companies like Crypto do not consider the welfare of the community but only the profit this sponsorship deal will bring to them over the next 20 years.
Since the deal’s announcement, the native token for Crypto.com hit an all-time high of $0.7984 and has continued to increase in value. Which, to say the least, makes the $700 million that Crypto paid for naming rights look like the smartest naming rights deal in history. That is not to say the community must be happy about it, as there is a backlash against the name change. For me, it is a blow to nostalgia, the fact that Crypto is not a company at the forefront of community support and engagement.
A global company coming in and funding a $100 million building is not what the city of LA needs right now. With projects like this there are usually arguments on how much this could help the community and the economy. Specifically, with a cryptocurrency company, the argument usually stems from the idea that cryptocurrency is the key to financial freedom and that it steers away from the capitalist ideal that only private owners control profit, but that is not the case with an expanding global company. Whenever a new building is added to a city or, in this case, the alteration of an already infamous structure, its surrounding neighborhoods are further monetized.
As the gentrification problem continues to expand in LA, putting money into big corporate companies and million-dollar deals for fancy buildings negatively affects the rent prices of small business locales, apartments with poor rent control and overall increases our cost of living.
What the community of LA needs right now is a company that cares about the well-being of its neighbors and gives back to the residents of our city in the way Staples has in previous years.
A big part of what Staples Center was known for was setting a foundation that engaged with and supported its community. The arena has a partnership with City Year, a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping students in public schools and, because of their partnership, City Year employees get to work on refurbishing local public schools, providing school supplies and mentoring students from grades K-12.
The arena’s previous philanthropy, aligned with AEG’s, awarded the community and our city with civic programs and financial support for the youth which I hope continues to be the case with Crypto’s partnership.
If there is any hope for this project, the partnership between AEG and Crypto.com could mean that future community-based projects, grants and programs would benefit from Crypto funding.
You don’t typically see any cryptocurrency agencies at the front of civic engagement but that is a necessity if a business hopes to flourish in LA. After making several headlines and partnering with LA teams, it should be clear that the people of LA expect not only a pretty building, but also a pretty penny invested back into its surrounding communities.
Featured image by Yetnaleci Maya
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