The Winnipeg Jets’ move into the digital age will not be accompanied by fees for printing off tickets or forwarding them to friends, family or clients.
Jim Ludlow, president and CEO of True North Sports & Entertainment, did his best to quell a firestorm that erupted Monday after season ticket holders started receiving their season ticket packages in the mail.
But instead of a book of brightly-coloured tickets featuring the logos of the Jets and all of their opponents – like they received last year – they found a season ticket card and a booklet explaining the first phase of the team’s "digital ticketing platform."
The booklet details how the primary ticket holder can use the card to enter the MTS Centre for Jets games on their own, forward tickets for individual games to other people in their group or clients or print off paper tickets to games.
But it was the explanation about waiving the ticket forwarding administrative fee of $2.50 per ticket for this season that sent disgruntled Jets fans to Twitter and Facebook to express their indignation about higher costs for future years.
But Ludlow said there will not be a fee next season or any subsequent season for forwarding or printing off tickets at home. (The paper tickets generated are similar to digital boarding passes on a piece of paper.)
"There has been some question about the fee. The intention is for the fee to be waived year after year. We’ve heard our fans," Ludlow said.
"It’s a logical move into the digital world. The digital ticketing platform has to start somewhere. Sometimes it feels odd when you print (tickets) at home, but that’s it."
There will be a fee, however, if fans want physical "spitter stock" tickets, the generic tickets featuring nothing but the game information. Ludlow said the team would charge $60 for this service for the 2012-13 season if fans want to "touch and feel" their tickets.
The full-colour game tickets that were sent out to season ticket holders last year, however, no longer exist.
Ludlow said he understands memorabilia collectors may be interested in these ducats – framers did a brisk business last year displaying them for posterity – and while there are no plans to print them, that could change, he said.
"We haven’t yet investigated what it means for a collector and what it costs. We don’t know if there’s any demand at all. To the extent the demand is overwhelming, you’d have to react to that. We just don’t know," he said.
Travis Daley, co-owner of Joe Daley’s Sportscards Ltd., said he framed 30 full sets of season tickets from the Jets 2011-12 season.
"They were quite popular. People want to keep them and preserve them. As a rule, sports fans like to have the piece of paper in their pockets. Some fans are quite unhappy not to have the usual tickets. A lot of them are going to miss that," he said.
The Jets are one of a handful of teams to go the digital ticket route this season. Edmonton and Calgary are the other Canadian ones, Ludlow said.
"The Winnipeg Jets' mandate is to lead the league in fan-based efficiencies," Ludlow said.
The season cards, which should have arrived in every primary season ticket holders’ mailbox by the end of Tuesday, will be identified with the section, row and seat number associated with each ticket. They will also facilitate team loyalty programs in the near future, Ludlow said.
Putting a significant dent in ticket fraud is one of the driving forces behind the new ticketing system. Ludlow wasn’t able to attach a number to what fraudulent tickets might have cost the Jets or their fans last year but he said it’s something the team is watching "very carefully."
"One of the biggest challenges is the secondary resale market. You can’t guarantee that those tickets are actually real. When we’re not in that marketplace, we can’t manage it. The biggest protection against fraud is to make sure people are using our official Winnipeg Jets seat exchange," he said.
Here's how the new system will work, according to the Jets' instructions:
- Each season-ticket holder will receive a single card identified with their section, row and seat. That card provides electronic admission to all games.
- Ticket-holders can also log into their new "Jets account," print out copies of their tickets at home and use or distribute them.
- As another option, ticket-holders who want to assign tickets to family, friends or clients can log into their account and forward the ticket for a specific game. The recipient can print the ticket at home and bring it to the game.
The new cards come with a 10-page booklet and a covering letter from Jets' franchise-holder True North Sports & Entertainment Ltd.