making waves

Hot Houston summer spot plans to sell NFT membership

Each NFT pass to Lago Mar Crystal Lagoon is available for $170 to $210. Rendering courtesy of Land Tejas

One of the most hyped — and most baffling — tech innovations on the planet is making waves in Texas City.

The Lago Mar Crystal Lagoon waterpark says it’s now selling season passes based on NFT technology. NFT stands for non-fungible token.

“At a basic level, an NFT is a digital asset that links ownership to unique physical or digital items, such as works of art, real estate, music, or videos,” the Insider website explains. “NFTs can be considered modern-day collectibles. They’re bought and sold online, and represent a digital proof of ownership of any given item. NFTs are securely recorded on a blockchain — the same technology behind cryptocurrencies — which ensures the asset is one-of-a-kind.”

The Lago Mar lagoon, a 12-acre waterpark that opened in 2020, says its NFT-based season pass may be the first anywhere to enable admission into an attraction. The park’s traditional and NFT season passes provide unlimited access to the lagoon, which hosts annual events like Lagoonfest Texas. The lagoon anchors a planned 100-acre, mixed-use entertainment district.

Uri Man, CEO of The Lagoon Development Co., which developed the Lago Mar venue, says the NFT pass offers perks that a regular pass doesn’t. For example, the NFT pass lets you enjoy special activities at the state’s largest crystal lagoon, such as setting sail with a professional captain or going kayaking.

“This payment option is buzzing around the event and attractions community, with entertainment and crypto experts theorizing how places like Disney World might be able to offer NFT entry and experiences,” Man says in a news release. “We’re not just talking about it, though — we’re doing it, and we are the first in the world, as far as I know.”

Each NFT pass is available for $170 to $210. Passes can be purchased with several types of cryptocurrency.

The Lago Mar lagoon’s NFT partner is OpenSea, an NFT marketplace. OpenSea’s investors include Dallas Mavericks owner and Shark Tank investor Mark Cuban, Austin entrepreneur and author Tim Ferriss, and NBA star and former University of Texas basketball standout Kevin Durant.

It's possible that NFT passes someday could pop up at Lagoon Development’s other waterparks. It already operates a crystal lagoon in Humble, is building another one in Iowa Colony, and expects to break ground soon on lagoons in Cypress, Katy, and Splendora.

To say that NFTs are exploding in popularity in the Houston area and elsewhere is a massive understatement. One study shows NFT sales hit $17.7 billion in 2021, up from $82.5 million in 2020, according to the Axios news website. Investment bank Jefferies predicts the value of the global NFT market will exceed $35 billion in 2022 and $80 billion in 2025, the CoinDesk news website reports.

The Texas City lagoon is just one of many businesses being captivated by the growing allure of NFTs. For instance, speculation continues to swirl that Disney’s theme parks will eventually adopt NFT season passes.

Furthermore, the NBA’s Dallas Mavericks may turn to NFTs for ticketing, and Southern California’s annual Coachella music festival is selling lifetime passes as NFTs.

“NFT tickets have the ability to not only take ticketing technology to the next level, but to also enable direct relationships between the seller and the buyer, and the performer and the fan — creating a connection that begins as soon as the NFT ticket is purchased, and continuing long after the event has ended,” the Better Marketing blog points out.

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Building Houston

 
 

A new report says Houston “is poised for further growth” in life sciences. Photo via Getty Images

Houston is receiving more kudos for its robust life sciences sector.

Bayou City lands at No. 13 in JLL’s 2022 ranking of the country’s top 15 metro areas for life sciences. JLL says Houston “is poised for further growth” in life sciences.

Here’s how Houston fares in each of the ranking’s three categories:

  • No. 12 for supply of life sciences-oriented commercial real estate
  • No. 14 for access to life sciences talent
  • No. 15 for life sciences grant funding and venture capital

Earlier this year, Houston scored a 13th-place ranking on a list released by JLL competitor CBRE of the country’s top 25 life sciences markets. Meanwhile, commercial real estate platform CommercialCafe recently placed Houston at No. 10 among the top U.S. metros for life sciences.

JLL applauds Houston for strong growth in the amount of life sciences talent along with “an impressive base of research institutions and medical centers.” But it faults Houston for limited VC interest in life sciences startups and a small inventory of lab space.

“Houston is getting a boost [in life sciences] from the growing Texas Medical Center and an influx of venture capital earmarked for life sciences research,” the Greater Houston Partnership recently noted.

Boston appears at No. 1 in this year’s JLL ranking, followed by the San Francisco Bay Area, San Diego, Washington, D.C./Baltimore, and Philadelphia.

Last year’s JLL list included only 10 life sciences markets; Houston wasn’t among them.

“The long-term potential of the sector remains materially unchanged since 2021,” Travis McCready, head of life sciences for JLL’s Americas markets, says in a news release.

“Innovation is happening at a more rapid pace than ever before, the fruits of research into cell and gene therapy are just now being harvested, and revenue growth has taken off in the past five years as the sector becomes larger, an atypical growth track.”

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