SBJ/July 23-29, 2012/Facilities

How are Harry Potter’s talking newspaper, Eagles tickets alike?

Don Muret
The Philadelphia Eagles are using technology to bring a new dimension to their season tickets.

The visual recognition technology, developed by Aurasma, brings a static image to life with video activated through a mobile application.

“It’s quasi-Harry Potter-ish,” said Tim McDermott, the team’s senior vice president and chief marketing officer, describing the technology.
The Eagles adopted the technology, also known as augmented reality, after talking with officials from the Philadelphia Inquirer, which became the first newspaper in the U.S. using Aurasma to generate videos connected to its photographs.

The technology is already in use by the San Jose Earthquakes, whose fans can scan a logo and see a video.
Photo by: SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES
Working with their clients, Aurasma places what the firm calls “trigger images” on a printed product. When scanned by a smartphone or tablet using the application, those triggers produce a video, without the use of QR codes or radio frequency identification tags.

The technology is available through the free Aurasma Lite application or it can be embedded into a separate application, which is what the Eagles are doing this year, McDermott said.

The Eagles see the technology as a fan engagement tool and decided to use it for all season tickets distributed for the 10 games at Lincoln Financial Field, McDermott said. The video activation on the tickets for the Sept. 30 game against the New York Giants, for example, will feature a Brian Dawkins highlight reel. The former Eagles defensive back’s No. 20 jersey will be retired that day.

The Eagles can change the videos at any time, he said.

To activate the video, season-ticket holders must download the Eagles’ team application on their device, locate and tap the “Augmented Reality” tab in the Fan Zone section and wave it over the artwork on the ticket. There are instructions on the ticket artwork for how to use the application. In addition, the Eagles will email season-ticket holders to tell them about the concept, McDermott said.

In the future, McDermott can see the Eagles generating revenue by using the technology to bring a sponsor’s advertisement to life in the game program, but he said it is not something the team is focused on at this point.

The Eagles are the first NFL club to use the technology but are not the first big league team to use it.

In Major League Soccer, the San Jose Earthquakes signed a deal in March with Aurasma to use its stand-alone app for fan engagement. Every time a fan opens the app and uses a mobile device to scan the team’s logo, whether it’s a poster or a refrigerator magnet, an Earthquakes promotional video pops up. Those videos are changed monthly, said team spokesman Frank Stranzl.

The Earthquakes found out about the technology through Tottenham Hotspur, the English Premier League team with which they have a partnership, said Dave Kaval, San Jose’s president. Aurasma is Tottenham’s jersey sponsor for Premier League games.

UNITED AT AAC: The Dallas Stars have signed Gameday Merchandising to a five-year deal to run their merchandise operation at American Airlines Center.

The Denver firm already manages the Mavericks’ retail at the arena’s team store in a separate five-year deal it signed with the NBA team before the 2011-12 season.

By adding the Stars, Gameday takes over all aspects of team store operations, including purchasing, stocking inventory, sales and accounting, for most arena events.

The exception is for third-party events such as NCAA basketball and concerts. Center Operating Co., the arena management firm co-owned by the Mavs and Stars, retains control of the retail operation for those dates.

Last season, with multiple retail agreements in place between the two clubs and Center Operating Co., the arena operator ran the team store under Gameday’s supervision. Gameday will employ retail workers previously hired by the arena and the Stars.

“This is much easier,” said Brad Mayne, Center Operating Co.’s president and CEO. “It was a smart move on the teams’ part.”

With both teams under contract, Gameday Merchandising has committed to investing in arena retail upgrades and to work with Adidas and Reebok, exclusive suppliers for the NBA and NHL, respectively, to install new fixtures and displays to improve the fan experience, said Alan Fey, Gameday’s president.

It will be similar to what Gameday has done at Nationals Park after taking over the ballpark’s merchandise this season, Fey said.

In the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex, Gameday’s deal with the Stars covers four Dr Pepper StarCenter Pro Shop stores, which sell hockey equipment in addition to Stars apparel. It is Gameday’s first venture into the sporting goods side of the business, Fey said.

Don Muret can be reached at dmuret@sportsbusinessjournal.com. Follow him on Twitter @breakground.

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