A new category of sponsorship was sold by a U.S. sports team for the first time on Friday: team marijuana dispensary.
The Las Vegas Lights, an expansion team in the United Soccer League, signed a deal with the local Paiute tribe to allow them to promote the NuWu Cannabis Marketplace at the team's stadium, Cashman Field, which it shares with the New York Mets Triple-A franchise, the Las Vegas 51s.
At 15,800 square feet, the marketplace is the largest marijuana dispensary in the world and sells both medicinal and recreational marijuana to more than 1,000 people a day, said Chris Spotted Eagle, the vice chairman of the tribe. The dispensary also has a 24-hour drive-thru.
"We love Las Vegas, and we're not embarrassed to support any business here," said Brett Lashbrook, whose USL team wears jerseys sponsored by Zappos.com -- which has played a major role in Las Vegas revitalization -- and shorts branded with the logo of the local Plaza Hotel & Casino.
"This is the right time and the right market to do this, and we're not going to hide. We think this will be part of the destigmatization of this substance and business. This isn't some shady guys walking around with hoods over their heads. This shop is closer to an Apple Store."
We were going to wait till 4:20 pm, but we were just too excited 😏— Las Vegas Lights FC (@lvlightsfc) April 13, 2018
We are proud to announce our partnership with @NuwuCannabis!
The first professional sports team in the U.S. to partner with a marijuana dispensary.
ONLY. IN. VEGAS. pic.twitter.com/ItGhT7a4vn
Because of federal laws about marijuana advertising to children, the team has to be careful as to what it can promote inside the stadium, but Lashbrook said he anticipates the partnership will include a branded marijuana inside the dispensary.
Spotted Eagle also said Las Vegas Lights paraphernalia is not out of the question.
Recreational marijuana sales began in Nevada in July 2017, and in the first six months the state pulled in $30 million in tax revenue from almost $200 million in gross marijuana sales.
Spotted Eagle said his tribe made a deal with the state to charge the excise tax on the marijuana product to prevent them from turning into a monopoly, but that the tax revenue goes back to the tribe as part of the federally negotiated Native American treaty.
The Las Vegas Lights began their inaugural season in the second-division USL last month. On Thursday, the club told the Las Vegas Review-Journal that former phenom Freddy Adu would make his debut on Saturday against the Sacramento Republic.