SBJ/November 28 - December 4, 2005/Other News

Colleges charging into ticketing

Team-sanctioned secondary ticket markets received another wave of endorsements as both Paciolan and StubHub have made significant additions to their client rosters in recent weeks.

Oklahoma will allow sales of tickets through its Paciolan program to earn fan-loyalty points.
Paciolan, based in Irvine, Calif., now is helping run secondary ticket markets for 14 clubs in the four major leagues and the NCAA, with an eye to growing to at least 24 next year. San Francisco-based StubHub, meanwhile, has grown from seven core team accounts early this year to 16, and plans to double that number by next summer. A deal between StubHub and the Washington Capitals was planned to be announced today.

Much of the growth has occurred in the college sector, as major universities are now taking the lead of their professional counterparts and offering official venues for ticket reselling. The expansion of the secondary market also intensifies the competition among these companies, RazorGator, and industry leader Ticketmaster, which claims 38 clients of its TeamExchange program.

“The word is definitely getting out,” said Jeff Berman, StubHub vice president of business development. “Every new product takes a while to catch hold fully, and that’s now really happening with the secondary ticket markets. No team or athletic program wants to lose season-ticket holders, and I think everybody is now really realizing what these markets can do to make sure that doesn’t happen.”

The full-scale arrival of major colleges to the secondary ticket arena also brings an additional wrinkle as some schools are linking such efforts into their fan-loyalty programs. Most schools with nationally prominent football and basketball programs distribute season tickets on a loyalty-points basis, allowing fans making either the largest donations or maintaining the longest track records of institutional support to buy seats.

The University of Oklahoma, in one instance, is taking that a step further with Paciolan by implementing an attendance component to their fan-loyalty program. Fans will earn points by attending Sooners home games, but also can do so by selling their tickets within the athletic program’s secondary ticket marketplace.

“We want every ticket used one way or another,” said Billy Ray Johnson, Oklahoma’s director of ticket operations. “Now that we’re doing this for basketball and will get into other sports for this beyond football, we understand people can’t go to every game. So we’re going to help them get those tickets to somebody else.”

But the Sooners and several other colleges, unlike most pro teams and open marketplaces such as eBay, are maintaining strict price controls on their secondary markets, and in many instances, allow for no price increase above face value.

“There are always going to be those open, unregulated secondary markets,” Johnson said. “But for the average fan, somebody that wants that assurance that what they’re buying is completely legitimate, I think systems like ours are going to comprise the bigger market.”

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