SBJ/August 1-7, 2011/Franchises

Bobcats offer season-ticket smart cards

The Charlotte Bobcats will become the first NBA team to offer season-ticket customers a smart card instead of a printed ticket for admission throughout the season at Time Warner Cable Arena.

Called the Season Pass, the smart card technology aims to eliminate the need for printed tickets while also allowing the team to load food and beverage costs onto the card. The team will roll out the new system later this summer.

The Bobcats’ Season Pass will eliminate the need for printed game tickets.
“There is lot of flexibility with the card, whether it is adding additional tickets to a game or adding food and beverage,” said Pete Guelli, executive vice president and chief sales and marketing officer of the Bobcats.

The ticket pass will be available to all full-season-ticket holders, and the team plans to send the card to all of those accounts instead of sending printed season tickets. The card will have a bar code to be scanned upon entrance into the arena.

Ticketmaster is the Bobcats’ ticket partner. Arkansas-based Weldon Williams and Lick is the smart card vendor.

Season-ticket holders who prefer printed tickets must contact the team to receive them, while season-ticket holders who want to transfer or resell tickets will be able to access a link through the team’s website to forward or print out the ticket. The team tested the smart card technology last season on a limited basis and now wants to push season-ticket holders to use the card in order to increase data collection from fans while reducing ticket production costs by more than 50 percent, team officials said. Savings are expected to reach six figures, and initial costs for the smart cards is around $25,000, according to Guelli.

“It will multiply our effort to capture demographic information,” said Flavil Hampsten, vice president of ticket sales and database marketing for the Bobcats. “We think our data collection will double or triple.”

While NBA officials confirmed that the Bobcats are the first NBA team to use the smart card admission system, it is not new in sports.

Major League Soccer’s New York Red Bulls last year implemented a similar system based on smart card technology that is widely used in Europe.

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