The city of Madeira Beach, Florida, became the first municipality in the world today to officially embrace Bitcoin, following a resolution by the city council.

The city has resolved to become “Bitcoin Beach,” in preparation for the upcoming “Bitcoin Bowl” that will be held a few miles south in St. Petersburg. BitPay, the world´s largest Bitcoin payment platform, will sponsor the game, which is also known as the St. Petersburg Bowl.

The college teams of the University of Central Florida and North Carolina State University will play against each other on December 26, 2014. The teams are ACC Atlantic Coast Conference college football rivals.

BitPay conducted extensive outreach with local municipalities and merchants over several months. Madeira Beach´s resolution followed a town hall meeting, during which BitPay presented the benefits of Bitcoin to the local economy.

BitPay stressed that merchants could eliminate processing fees and, at the same time, increase security against fraud and chargebacks. They also pointed out that Bitcoin would open up a new market from visitors around the globe, as well as mobile users. City Manager Shane Crawford said:

"The city of Madeira Beach is opening its arms to the global Bitcoin community. We want bitcoin users to know that they can pay for their entire vacation with bitcoin here."

There are more than 100 businesses in Madeira Beach and the Tampa Bay area that either currently accept Bitcoin through BitPay, or that are preparing to. Madeira Beach wants to use the football game to put the community, which relies heavily on tourism, on the map for users of virtual currencies, especially Bitcoin.

The city will also host the “Pre-Bitcoin Bowl Beach Bash,” which will offer numerous activities for both fans and visiting teams. BitPay´s founders Stephen Pair and Tony Gallippi will be on hand before the game to accept the keys to the city of Madeira Beach. Gallippi commented to Cointelegraph:

“We hope that other cities follow Madeira Beach’s example in supporting the growth of Bitcoin. For cities that attract international visitors, accepting Bitcoin is a great way to boost sales.”

Gallippi announced at a press conference in August that BitPay paid ESPN Events to cover the game, at a cost that the Tampa Bay Business Journal estimated to be about US$1.5 million over a three-year period. The announcement comes as a surprise to many in the Bitcoin community, but such arrangements are common during sporting events. Fox Broadcasting’s winning bid to cover the 2018 World Cup is another recent example, which will put a total of US$1.2 billion in the bank for FIFA (the Fédération Internationale de Football Association).

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