American basketball team Charlotte Hornets has taken a significant step into the metaverse by launching a virtual shop designed exclusively for its fans.
Developed in partnership with AI company MeetKai, the virtual shop draws inspiration from and replicates the physical Hornets Fan Shop at Spectrum Center in Charlotte, North Carolina.
To connect fans from across the globe and provide them with a more immersive buying experience, the virtual shop can be easily accessed using a mobile device or desktop.
Inside the virtual shop, fans can explore a diverse range of Hornets merchandise — including jerseys, t-shirts, hats, and various collectibles. If they decide to make a purchase, they can simply click on their chosen virtual item, which will redirect them to the online shop for the transaction.
Beyond merchandise, the virtual shop also offers a social dimension. Fans visiting the shop can create their own avatars and engage with other users in a shared digital space.
This initiative by the Charlotte Hornets marks the NBA’s first foray into the world of virtual shops. However, both the league and its member teams have been exploring opportunities in the Web3 space.
In 2022, the NBA announced a long-term partnership with Sorare, aimed at developing the first NFT-based fantasy basketball game.
In the same year, the NBA team Miami Heat unveiled the Miami Mashup NFT Collection, which was released on the FTX US NFT Marketplace.
Individual players have also embraced Web3 technologies. For instance, former NBA star Magic Johnson filed trademark applications for his name and the phrase “Building. Magic. Together,” signaling his intention to take part in the Web3 ecosystem through the creation and sale of NFTs and virtual items.