SBJ/June 19 - 25, 2000/Other News

E-TicketBoard links universities, a new online marketplace for sports fans to buy and sell tickets, has launched a campaign to partner with colleges and universities.

The site has been in development for 18 months and is ready to make its official debut, said Joe Spencer, the company's president and CEO. The site started with the NBA Finals and Major League Baseball, and boards for the NFL, NHL and NASCAR should be up in about 60 days, Spencer said. The site provides the option for user to pay a $30 annual fee or a $6 per-use fee.

The company is offering free customized fan ticket exchanges to colleges that choose to align with E-TicketBoard. All a school has to do is provide a link from its athletics home page to E-TicketBoard. A college division launched two months ago already has partnerships with Texas A&M's football, basketball and baseball programs and the University of South Carolina's basketball program. The company is in negotiations with at least a dozen institutions, Spencer said.

Tapping college athletics is the perfect way to market the site, Spencer said.

"College sports fans are considered the most loyal fans around," he said. "And by offering the college service to fans for free, when these fans look for tickets for professional events they'll know that they can go to E-TicketBoard for those, too."

For schools, the programs can help boost attendance and can enhance fan experience, said Chris Massaro, associate athletic director of ticket sales at the University of South Carolina. South Carolina has had a problem filling seats to sold-out games, particularly midweek games, he said. "We use [E-TicketBoard] to keep unused tickets out of desk drawers," Massaro said. South Carolina started the program in January, and in its first two weeks more than 500 people signed up, he said. The athletic department is considering adding its football schedule to the program.

FansOnly Network, which runs more than 75 college Web sites, has been approached by some of its schools to run a similar system, said Richard Kilwien, director of marketing and communication for FansOnly. But the company does not have plans to begin a fan ticket exchange, he said.

"I think that since most athletic departments have a surplus of tickets to sell, creating [an exchange board for fans] would somewhat defeat the department's purpose of selling those extra tickets," Kilwien said. "For athletic departments, tickets sold equates to money in the bank."

Kilwien said that while there are many sites that broker tickets, he did not know of another site with a format similar to E-TicketBoard's.

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