Birmingham claims EFL first with metaverse project

Championship club Birmingham City has claimed a first for the English Football League (EFL) after announcing plans to enter the metaverse through a partnership with esports company Ultimo GG.

Work began on scanning and mapping a digital recreation of Birmingham’s St. Andrew’s Stadium back in December. Once complete, Birmingham’s metaverse concept will offer commercial opportunities for the club, engagement and entertainment opportunities for fans, and fundraising opportunities for its community trust, academy and other charity causes.

Plans for the metaverse project include a digital museum detailing the club’s history, along with a partner showcase to allow prospective club sponsors to step into St. Andrew’s and sample what their branding would look like on the LED systems, big screen and more.

The initiative would also include virtual events such as Q&As with club legends, digital gigs for local bands and VR replays of classic matches; a games arcade for fans; virtual tours with multiple language options; and coding camps for local students and fans to provide solutions to overcome real-world challenges faced by Birmingham.

Additionally, the metaverse would include non-fungible tokens (NFTs) and club tokens, a virtual club store for fans to sample kit and merchandise, ticketing and memberships, and community and educational resources.

Birmingham said it would begin a thorough fan consultation process shortly, allowing supporters to have their say on the metaverse project. The club and Ultimo GG are committed to building a “free-to-enter and inclusive enterprise” which will deliver sustainable, long-term revenue streams.

James Corrigan, commercial sales manager at Birmingham, said: “This project underlines Birmingham City’s commitment to innovation, and we’re thrilled to be one of the front-runners and early adopters of Web3.

“Ultimo GG has been an excellent partner for the club since we announced our partnership last September, with over £10,000 (€12,000/$13,400) of gaming tournament prizes won by Blues fans, the regular match-day activity at the Ultimo GG esports bar at St. Andrew’s and their charitable donations to our community trust and local hospital.”

Tobias Gooden, Ultimo GG’s chief executive and co-founder, added: “We’re incredibly excited to be guiding Birmingham City Football Club into the metaverse. Web3 will bring a number of innovative opportunities to football clubs, and we will be able to help Birmingham City become one of the first sports clubs in the world to benefit from this new technology.”

In November, Premier League club Manchester City entered into a partnership with Sony to develop new digital fan experiences, including a digital recreation of the Etihad Stadium. The partnership is designed to create a global online fan community where fans can interact in the metaverse.

Last month, the Atlanta Braves detailed plans to become the first Major League Baseball team to join the metaverse through the creation of a virtual platform featuring a photo-realistic digital twin of Truist Park.

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