The Cleveland Cavaliers add NFTs to Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse Public Art Program

Basketball-Themed NFTs acquired from independent artists to be featured physically in-venue and online in a virtual gallery.

The Cleveland Cavaliers have launched a Non-Fungible Token (NFT) Collection, recently acquiring three basketball-themed pieces, to be featured on LED video boards at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse as a new addition to the venue’s currently existing Public Art Program. The NFTs were purchased from independent artists on Foundation, a platform for live auctions of digital art and NFTs, using ethereum (ETH) cryptocurrency. The Collection, which will continue to expand and grow, can also be viewed online.

The first three NFTs to be added to the Collection are TRANSCENDENCE by Southern California artist Dillon Hutchins, Lemon Dunk Tree by Los Angeles photographer Isaac Garcia and Brick Squad by Dillon Hutchins. The works are currently displayed on rotation on the Canyon LED inside the glass atrium of the FieldHouse. The four-story tall, eight million pixels Canyon LED can be seen through the glass by passersby in downtown Cleveland and is separated in the center by the venue’s Overlook Bar that offers views of the city's skyline.

“The genesis of the Collection is born from a desire to use our platform to authentically engage with the global, contemporary art community and its diverse fanbase. We want to empower the independent artists who drive this community forward and amplify their work in both a physical way at the FieldHouse and virtually to our worldwide audience,” said Nic Barlage, Rock Entertainment Group President and COO. “We’re excited and proud to addNFTs to the over 100 physical works that make up the Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse Public Art Program.”

The Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse Public Art Program, an ongoing initiative unparalleled in scope, features site-specific commissions created for the arena that convey a spirit of sportsmanship and resilience. Launched in September of 2019 with the grand opening of the transformed venue, the program is privately funded by Dan and Jennifer Gilbert and curated by Library Street Collective.

The diverse, multi-media 100+ piece Collection features works from nationally and internationally renowned contemporary artists including Nina Chanel Abney, Shephard Fairey and KAWS and rotating exhibitions by celebrated local artists such as Donald Black Jr., Erin Guido, Kasumi and Darius Steward. Cleveland, Ohio-native and internationally-celebrated artist Daniel Arsham, whose installation entitled Moving Basketball is also part of the Art Program, was named Creative Director of the Cavaliers last year as well.

"Making art accessible to all has always been an important personal priority of ours and we are excited to incorporate these remarkable pieces into the extensive renovations at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse,” said Dan and Jennifer Gilbert. “Fans now have an opportunity to interact with the work of today’s most celebrated contemporary artists through a collection selected specifically for this space and this audience."

The art program was curated by renowned Detroit-based art gallery Library Street Collective in partnership with the Cavaliers and Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse. Library Street Collective specializes in cutting-edge contemporary art with a specific focus on art in public spaces. Each piece in the program is either a commissioned, site-specific work or acquired for the venue collection.

“We believe our art program is a great representation of who we are as a venue – a multi-purpose facility that is home to many different types of events that appeal to all walks of life,” said Tracy Marek, Cavs EVP and Chief Marketing Officer. “Just as there is something for everyone at the new Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse, there is something for everyone with our art program. We are so excited about how diverse, interesting and locally-infused the collection turned out to be, and we thank Dan and Jennifer for their incredible support and investment to bring this to life.”

The Cavaliers made their first move onto the blockchain when the team partnered with technology company, RECUR, to mint its first-ever NFT titled the Cleveland Cavaliers Locker Room. Over fifty of these inaugural NFTs were gifted to corporate partners at a special “Art of Business” private event earlier this month. The event featured an on-stage discussion and Q&A with Arsham, Barlage, Jay Farner, CEO of Rocket Companies, Len Komoroski, CEO of Rock Entertainment Group and Zach Bruch, Co-Founder and Co-CEO of Recur.

“For many in attendance, this was the first NFT that they could call their own, so it was great to introduce them to this new world, but also very rewarding to see how excited they were to receive it and show it off,” said Mike Conley, Cavaliers and Rocket MortgageFieldHouse SVP & Chief Information Officer. Conley oversees emerging technology for the team and has led the ideation and application of NFTs with a diverse internal group. “This Locker Room concept is just a prelude to some very interesting things we have in store for all our fans coming soon.”

Future announcements will be coming at a later date with information for how Cleveland fans can score Cavaliers NFTs of their own. They can visit the team's NFT site now to sign up for information. Under the guidance, and vision, of the Gilbert family, the Cavaliers are at the forefront of the future and their acquisition of NFTs for their Public Art Program is the latest example of this. It's exciting to wonder what will be coming next for fans heading into the 2021-22 NBA season.


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