The first and only pro sports team in the U.S. to take on a cannabis sponsorship is taking on a second
Last April, the Las Vegas Lights made headlines as the first professional sports team in the United States to publicly affiliate themselves with a cannabis company. A team member of the United Soccer League, the Lights had signed a sponsorship deal with NuWu Cannabis Marketplace to promote NuWu at their home stadium, Cashman Field. Since then, no other pro sports team has even publicly showed an interest in a cannabis sponsorship, much less announced one. However, the Lights’ affiliation with the massive Las Vegas-based dispensary must have gone well, because the Lights have just signed with another sponsor in the cannabis industry, Two Roots Brewing Company, which will be their exclusive craft beer sponsor for the 2019 season.
Two Roots, based in San Diego, is known for brewing a non-alcoholic cannabis beer infused with micro-doses of THC. Due to laws around public consumption of cannabis, however, a version that replaces the THC with good-old-fashioned alcohol will be sold at Cashman Field. Even though patrons won’t be able to consume cannabis while at games, Two Roots is hoping to be exposed to a new group of potential customers who will then go out and purchase their cannabis-infused beers.
It’s more than just marketing, Kevin Love, Vice President of market activations for Cannabiniers, (the brand management company for Two Roots), told Weedmaps. “It's knocking down a stigma and creating normalcy and synergy between the craft beer market and the THC market,” he said. Two Roots will be rotating five beers at Cashman field: a lager, a wheat, a blonde ale, an Indian Pale Ale (IPA), and a stout.
Brett Lashbrook, president and owner of the Las Vegas Lights FC, said, “It's not easy being a leader. It's not easy being first. It's not easy in this day and age. The cannabis industry has been dealing with a stigma for years. There is a culture of hesitation.”
“I don't know of any other pro-level team that has done cannabis sponsorships,” said Lashbrook. A year after the Lights became the first pro sports team with a cannabis sponsor, they are still the only ones. “There is not a single NFL, Major League Baseball, NBA, NHL, Major League Soccer, or NCAA team that has ever in any way, shape, or form partnered with anything that is even remotely related to cannabis.”
Although no other pro sports team in the country has yet to publicly affiliate themselves with a cannabis company, Lashbrook says that behind the scenes, other teams are showing some curiosity. He said pro sports teams in other cities across the country have quietly reached out to him with questions about cannabis sponsorships, but have been too apprehensive to go further. “There is still a stigma attached to the cannabis industry in mainstream America," Lashbrook said. “I hope other teams follow us. They want to do it. They're just too scared.”