In the past few years we’ve seen MLB and some MiLB teams adopt flexible ballpark passes, including monthly “subscriptions” that basically let folks enter the ballpark and congregate in SRO or social spaces. Earlier this season the Minnesota Twins introduced a beefed-up Twins Pass that combines a mobile pass with a season pass. For a flat fee, a buyer can access Target Field for up to 79 games (two certain sellouts are excluded) and are sold at three different levels: $894 for a lower-level seat, $494 for an upper-deck seat and $294 with no seat at all (your standard SRO ticket). The Twins Passes are billed monthly. Fans can request a seat via a phone app a week before a game or just head to Target Field and wing it. Currently the seats are randomly allocated, but a group can request adjacent seats.
And it’s not just happened in MLB: The University of Minnesota announced a Gopher Pass for 2019 Golden Gopher football season at TCF Bank Stadium. Fans are guaranteed admission to a University of Minnesota game, but are not guaranteed the same fixed seats–or even a seat in the case of a sellout. They will have a digital ticket delivered to their smartphone via a text message prior to each game. Fans will then be able to manage their ticket from their phone and will scan their digital ticket to gain entry into TCF Bank Stadium.
The Oakland A’s are putting a spin on this movement by offering an A’s Access pass, where fans commit to seats for a set time–10 or 24 games–but then receive the equivalent of SRO access for the remainder of the season, able to hang out on social spaces like the Treehouse. They also receive discounted concessions and merch. We’re still seeing a lot of experimentation on evolving the season pass, a movement enabled by advanced in sports tech, and here’s what Athletics COO Chris Giles says about his team’s effort:
At its core, we are selling access to something, we are not selling something. It is a gym, it is a country club. We’re selling fans access to something they value, the ability to come to the game on a whim.
We want to make sure that those that commit to supporting this organization, and are really crucial to us staying here, we want to make sure they’re rewarded and that they’re rewarded in a meaningful way. Really getting to the place where fans actually feel that their experience is much different as a member is the ultimate goal.
In a traditional baseball setting, if you’re saying hey, come be a member of this organization, but you can only come when you buy a ticket, well I don’t really feel like a member.
As noted, this isn’t revolutionary, but rather evolutionary, fully within the mainstream of what we’ll see happen in all pro sports in coming years.