October 21, 2017 Atlanta - Georgia Tech fans cheer for their team during an NCAA college football game against the Wake Forest at Bobby Dodd Stadium on Saturday, October 21, 2017. Georgia Tech beat Wake Forest 38-24. HYOSUB SHIN / HSHIN@AJC.COM
Photo: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC
Photo: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC

Georgia Tech finding market for Stinger Mobile Pass

In an effort to offer Yellow Jackets fans a more appealing ticket option and also to gain better control in the ticket market, the Georgia Tech ticket office has put more of its weight behind its Stinger Mobile Pass, now in its second year.

After selling out its inventory for the Stinger Mobile Pass last year, the athletic department has increased its supply for the product and created two versions of the pass. 

The pass is similar to a season ticket in that it guarantees purchasers a seat to every home game. It is different in that fans do not purchase a specific seat, but are assigned one when they arrive at Bobby Dodd Stadium. It also is used through mobile devices, adding a level of convenience, and is cheaper than most of Tech’s season-ticket options.

The pass essentially is a replacement for the multi-game ticket packages that the ticket office no longer sells and arguably is a better version of it.

“They’re comparable (in price), but the benefit is you can come to all seven games,” said Mike Castle, assistant athletic director for ticket sales and operations.

Tech is selling a gold mobile pass for $249, which guarantees seats in the lower level of Bobby Dodd Stadium, and the standard version for $149. The product also allows fans to be able to sit with other pass owners and also purchase single-game tickets for guests that can be paired together. Last year, fans were sat in sections as close to the 50-yard line as 103 and 104 in the west stands (between the 5- and 30-yard lines) and 127 and 128 in the east stands (between the 5 and 25).

Standard season-ticket prices range from $219 in the upper north section to $1,050 for club seats, the latter of which includes which includes the required donation to the Tech Fund. Purchasers of the mobile pass don’t receive benefits offered to season-ticket holders or accrue A-T priority points.

The lower price point also is intended to encourage fans who don’t plan to attend every home game, but still offer the flexibility to attend any. Last year, about 10 percent of pass holders attended all six home games. The average was three games, Castle said.

“It’s not too much different than when you buy a subscription pass or season pass to Six Flags,” Castle said. “If I pay this much and I go two times, three times, I’ve paid off my pass.”

The pass is one attempt for Tech to address the attendance challenges that college football has faced nationally. FBS attendance hit a 22-year low in 2018. Tech’s average was 43,087, its lowest rate since 2001. A variety of factors are at play in the national decline, but the pass is in part an attempt to appeal to a younger demographic with its flexibility and lower price point.

The technology for the pass is provided by Atlanta-based Experience, which was founded by Tech grad Tripp Rackley. (Experience is owned by Cox Enterprises, which owns The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.) The company works with more than 70 colleges and 85 percent of teams in the NFL, NBA, NHL, MLS and Major League Baseball, according to CEO Junior Gaspard.

“We think perhaps we’ll see more and more pass adoption as fans get more comfortable with the technology over time and these types of flexible solutions,” Gaspard said. “That’s because a subscription has become so commonplace for so many consumers.”

Tech sold a little more than 400 passes last year before sales were capped. Sales for this season have well surpassed last year’s total.

A considerable benefit for Tech, particularly should the number of purchasers scale up, is how it could adjust the secondary ticket market. Tech’s ticket office found that fans of teams such as Clemson or Georgia have bought the multi-game packs that include tickets to those games, intending only to attend that one game and then flooding the market with the tickets to the remaining games.

That hurt Tech’s ability to sell tickets at face value for those games, limiting revenues. A UGA fan could conceivably buy a mobile pass to attend this year’s game at Bobby Dodd Stadium, but reselling tickets to the other games would be a difficult process.

“We’re looking to reward Georgia Tech fans as opposed to providing the opportunity for visiting teams’ fans to get a discounted deal on a package and sell off the games they don’t want,” Castle said.

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