Paid seat upgrades coming for A’s fans this season

As part of the growing trend towards e-ticketing, the A’s will start accepting admissions through Apple’s Passbook app on most recent iPhones. Erica Ogg of the tech site GigaOm reported that the program has expanded from 3 MLB parks in 2012 to 13 for 2013, now including the Coliseum.

Apple Passbook App with MLB e-ticket displayed

Redemption involves scanning a bar code much like the one shown above. Unlike my mostly positive experience with FanPass last year that involved scanning a credit card, the e-ticket should be sufficient and shouldn’t require a printed receipt for fans to have on hand in case an usher checks.

The SF Business Times’ Eric Young wrote yesterday that as part of this new wave of technology, for the first time the A’s will allow fans to purchase seat upgrades via MLB’s At The Ballpark app. Now that may sound like a joke considering the long history of “free” seat upgrades at the Coli, but really, Lew Wolff’s been planning for this since he unveiled the Coliseum North ballpark plan in 2006. During a game, fans can check in to the app and see an inventory of available seats. The inventory shown may not match what you see inside the seating bowl because it represents unpaid, available seats to purchase. When it’s really cold or there’s an unappealing opponent (or when the A’s suck), it’s common to have thousands of paid no-shows.

I look forward to using this several times this season just to see how dynamic it is. During some of the early April and May games when there are barely 10,000 fans in the house, it should show a ton of available seats. For Giants, Yankees, Cubs, and Angels games, the pickings should be much slimmer. Integration will be key. While scanning ticket will be done with Passbook (and presumably, Samsung Wallet on their Samsung phones), upgrades will be done through At the Ballpark. That lack of one stop shopping could be confusing for users at first. At the Ballpark is available for iPhone and iPad, as well as Android via the Google Play and Amazon Appstore.

As for the time-honored tradition of sneaking down? Well, when asked by Businessweek’s Brad Stone, MLB AM’s Bob Bowman had an answer for that:

“I think you’re harkening back to a slightly different day,” he says. “No matter what system you put in place, there will be people who do things like that. But increasingly in these stadiums that have opened in the last 15 years, you need to have tickets to get in there. This really isn’t for kids trying to sneak in on their own.”

It’s all part of the continuing drive for revenue, like it or not.

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Update 2:00 PM – I purchased a ticket for the second World Baseball Classic semifinal (TBD vs. Netherlands). The ticket was delivered to my Passbook. I’ll give it a shot on Monday and report back.

8 thoughts on “Paid seat upgrades coming for A’s fans this season

  1. This is the slipping-the-usher-a-few-bucks of the 21st century?

  2. I’ve used the passbook feature at other places at and it seems to work pretty easily and seamlessly.

  3. Wait, isn’t banjo man an automaton, like the ones at Chuckie Cheese?

  4. Would be pretty decent of them to use the technology for free seat upgrades as well, at least as some kind of lottery to fill in empty seats behind home plate that you can see in the telecast. Not that I think there will be as many empty seats this year.

  5. “Now that may sound like a joke considering the long history of “free” seat upgrades at the Coli”

    And it does. I have a hard time seeing this being implemented successfully at the Coliseum unless the ushers are told to be more strict and vigilant about checking tickets. Otherwise, who’s to stop people from sneaking down anyways?

  6. @StuckInBoston – I can see them heavily discounting seats. Giving them away might be a bit much.

    @JL – They already check if you’re going down below row 20 in the lower deck. Making them more vigilant is a trivial matter.

  7. I guess I’ve been lucky then. I’ve only been stopped a few times, though granted I rarely sneak down THAT low and I usually make my move in the later innings when they’re less likely to check. In any case, it’ll be interesting to see how it works out this season, along with attendance in general.

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