Group Created with Sketch.
Volume 21 No. 2


Don Muret
The San Antonio Spurs are providing smart cards for season-ticket holders at AT&T Center, the team’s first step toward a comprehensive paperless operation at the arena over the next three years.

As the Spurs ramp up for the shortened NBA season, they have given season-ticket holders the option to use smart cards or continue using paper tickets for games. Those using the technology receive a stored-value card good for admission to the 33 home regular-season games.

The bar code on the front of the Spurs Family card is scanned at the arena turnstiles. If the season-ticket holder cannot attend the game, the person can transfer the digital ticket by email by logging on to the Ticketmaster Account Manager program, said Frank Miceli, the Spurs’ senior vice president of sales and marketing. The game in question is “disabled” on the smart card, and the person attending the game prints a paper ticket from a personal computer or smartphone, Miceli said.

As of early December, about a week after the Spurs introduced the smart cards, 13 percent of season-ticket holders had decided to go with the cards. It’s a good start toward the team’s goal of 20 percent to 25 percent adoption in the first season, Miceli said.

“We are always looking for innovative new benefits for season-ticket holders,” he said.

The smart cards should save the Spurs about $50,000 this year, half of what the club would typically spend to print hard tickets for season-ticket holders, said Joe Clark, the team’s vice president of sales and service.

Consolidated Printing, the same Arkansas firm that prints the Spurs’ paper tickets, produced the initial run of smart cards. The Spurs bought a card printer from the ticket vendor for less than $5,000 to produce cards on their own for season-ticket holders who decide to go paperless later in the season.

The technology also gives the Spurs the flexibility to add value on smart cards to be used toward food and merchandise concessions. The team plans to move in that direction over a few seasons, Miceli said.

The Spurs are not the first NBA team to use smart cards for season tickets. The Charlotte Bobcats adopted paperless technology last season, setting up a test for 6,000-plus season-ticket holders to use the cards for preseason games. This year, the same number will use them for the regular season, said Pete Guelli, Bobcats executive vice president and chief sales and marketing officer.

The Atlanta Hawks and Sacramento Kings are also using smart cards this season, confirmed officials from those two clubs. In Cleveland, the Cavaliers have used Flash Seats paperless technology since 2006 at Quicken Loans Arena.

DYNAMIC PARTNER: AEG’s financial stake in the Houston Dynamo extends to the food and ticketing operations at the club’s new MLS stadium.

Levy Restaurants, the food provider at about seven AEG-controlled properties, was close to signing a multiyear deal to run concessions and premium dining at the 22,000-seat stadium, according to sources close to the negotiations. As of last Tuesday, the deal was not signed, sources said.

In addition, AEG Facilities, the stadium’s operator, will switch from Ticketmaster to Outbox, AEG’s new ticketing system, during the 2012 season, team officials said. AEG and Outbox, a Canadian tech firm, announced a ticketing joint venture in February.

The building will be one of AEG’s first sports facilities to convert to the ticketing platform. Staples Center will do the same by mid-2012.

AEG co-owns the Dynamo with Golden Boy Promotions and Brener International Group.

In Greensboro, the new aquatic center will be part of the bid for the U.S. swimming trials.

MUTUAL OF OMAHA: Greensboro Coliseum officials will visit CenturyLink Center Omaha for the 2012 Olympic team trials in swimming.

Greensboro, N.C., officials are preparing a bid for the 2016 event, and the June trip will give them a firsthand look at what it takes for an arena to set up a temporary pool structure on the event floor.

One advantage Greensboro has over Omaha is its new aquatic center, next to the arena, which can be used as a warm-up pool. CenturyLink Center Omaha, also the site of the 2008 event, will build two warm-up pools in an exhibit hall tied to the arena, said Roger Dixon, the Nebraska arena’s president and CEO.

The Greensboro Aquatic Center, a 78,300-square-foot building, has booked 50 events since it opened in August.

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