After spending the spring listening to feedback on the first year of the new Gold Pass student ticketing system, the Boston College athletic department has announced a few major changes to the program, including the implementation of a smartphone app that will track points and rewards. The news will be announced later today, according to Associate Athletic Director for External Operations Jamie DiLoreto.
The athletic department announced the switch to the Gold Pass last summer. Having previously sold student season tickets for individual sports, BC instead decided to offer one ticket package for $175 that gave access to every game with the swipe of a student ID. There was no limit on the number of Gold Passes sold, so entrance to high-demand games such as hockey versus Boston University, basketball versus Duke, and the Beanpot tournament were determined using a reward point system based on attendance.
Although the program found success in its first year, it was not without its initial issues. Students said that they noticed other people would swipe into games and leave early in order to earn points for higher demand games. There were also communication problems between the athletic department and students, which mainly occurred through email alerts about what games were happening each week and how many points each game was worth.
To fix these issues, this fall BC is partnering with SuperFanU, a company that has produced a smartphone app used by Clemson University, Penn State University, the University of Michigan, and more than 25 other schools to track reward points for systems like the Gold Pass. While most of the other schools use the app only to track reward points for prizes for students, BC students will use the app as a comprehensive hub for the Gold Pass. After downloading the app, they can set up an account and link it to their Gold Pass purchase. Students can then use the app to check in when they arrive at games and also check out when they leave. There will be five bonus points given to students who arrive 30 minutes early and five bonus points given to students who stay the whole game. The app uses geo-tracking technology to determine whether a student has left the arena prior to the conclusion of the game.
Students without smartphones, which the athletic department estimates is a small number, can set up profiles on their friends’ phones and check in using iPads provided by BC at the gate. There is currently no desktop access for the SuperFanU program. Students will still need to swipe their IDs to enter games, and the athletic department has said that weekly system checks will be performed in order to make sure students with new IDs will not have issues at the gate.
The athletic department will also use push notifications on the app to send students information about upcoming games, replacing the old email blasts. There are three tiers for points at each game. For example, the USC and Clemson football games are tier 1 and are worth 10 points, Pitt and Louisville are tier 2 and 20 points, and Colorado State and Maine are tier 3 and 30 points. Select Olympic sport games will be worth 10 points, along with a five-point bonus for staying the whole game.
The reward and prize system will work entirely through the app as well. Once the athletic department finalizes the prizes that will be offered, they will show up greyed-out on the app along with the amount of points needed to unlock the prizes, which will include t-shirts, free snacks at games, and posters. Students will also be able to enter to win bigger prizes including signed hockey jerseys and Red Sox tickets. Access to high-demand games will also use the same process. Students with enough points to earn entrance to high-demand games will have the game unlocked for them on the prizes menu and must then show the message on their phone at the gate.
The price for the Gold Pass has risen from $175 to $199 this year. The athletic department has cited a seventh home game as well as more home hockey and basketball games as the reason for the price increase. The home football game against Syracuse is the Saturday during Thanksgiving break, but the Gold Pass will still give students access to the game.
A few other tweaks to the system this year include a restructuring of the system for transfer students and the ability to roll over points to give some priority to seniority. Students who go abroad will be able to purchase a half Gold Pass for whichever semester they are on campus, and students who are on campus in the spring will only be competing for reward points on a leaderboard with other students who have the spring semester pass.
No reward points from the 2013-14 season will carry over into 2014-15, but the SuperFanU app lets BC roll over points into the 2015-16 season. Students in the top quarter of reward points will have a certain number of points roll over into next season, and then the second and third quarters will have a smaller number roll over.
The Gold Pass is currently on sale through the BC Athletics website, and the BC SuperFanU app is scheduled to be released in early August.