While you weren’t looking, MLB has slowly started rolling in new technology that makes going to the games a bit different than in the past.
The days of putting your ticket stubs into a scrapbook or frame for posterity sake may soon go the way of the Dodo bird.
Ballclubs are now slowly implementing services such as Tickets@Phone, at stadiums throughout MLB. The Nationals, Athletics, Pirates, and Rangers are examples of the clubs that now offer the service which allows those clubs to deliver tickets to a cell phone via a standard multimedia text message, allowing fans to use their cell phone as a ticket.
The message contains a unique barcode and the usual ticket information.
The fan then saves the message in their in-box, and presents it as their “ticket” to the game.
The service is being touted one more way to make going to the game easier.
But, when you look a little deeper, there may be another aspect to the new technology that works to head off an on-going battle in professional sports: the secondary ticket market.
By making tickets paperless, the ability to transfer that purchase to another by way of scalping or a legal secondary ticket service such as StubHub, becomes far more difficult. Short of selling your phone, or loaning your phone to another, the mobile phone electronic ticket ties the purchaser directly to the use of that electronic ticket.
And while Tickets@Phone is only in three ballparks currently, it is conceivable that the service would go online within new ballparks currently being constructed for the Mets, Yankees, and Twins. The A’s have already said that they will have the technology in the new stadium they are working towards, and one assumes the Nationals will bring the service along with them into their new facility slated to open next season.
As mobile technology continues to become more robust with rich content at the core of their designs (witness Apple's iPhone, as but one example), the use of paperless tickets will most assuredly grow, and with that, the ability to sell those ticket purchases on the secondary market will decline.
It’s not the beginning of the end for scalpers, but don’t be surprised if one asks a fan if they want to sell a ticket, and they reply, “Can you hear me now?” while holding up their cell phone.
It may be just a matter of time before the paper ticket becomes obsolete, and with that, could the secondary ticket sale market be far behind?
Maury Brown is the founder and president of The Business of Sports Network, which includes The Biz of Baseball and The Biz of Football (with The Biz of Basketball and The Biz of Hockey launching shortly). He is also a contributor to Baseball Prospectus.
He looks forward to your comments via email and can be contacted here.
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