OptionIt, a Web-based platform that allows sports fans to buy options for event tickets before they go on sale, recently signed a deal with the University of Miami to provide ticket options to Hurricanes fans.

Under the deal, fans will be able to buy options to all Hurricanes games for the 2010 and 2011 seasons. Options reserve fans the right to buy tickets at face value when they become available. If a fan decides not to exercise an option, they can sell their option to another fan on the OptionIt Web site.

Options prices vary depending on the game and seat location. Options for Miami’s September 2010 game against Florida A & M are going for $12; options for Miami’s September 2011 game against the Ohio State Buckeyes are going for $58. Options are also available for 2010 and 2011 postseason games, like the ACC Championship game, for $18. If Miami does not make it into the postseason, that $18 is lost.

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Michael Proman, OptionIt’s vice president of marketing partnerships and development strategy, told TicketNews that the deal comes at a time when UM football is on the upswing. He cited their schedule for the next two seasons, which includes the Buckeyes coming to Coral Gables. Proman said fans can have access to those tickets now. “It’s access on demand and without obligation.”

University of Miami assistant director of athletics for ticket operations, Erik Book said in a statement, “Many fans want more flexibility in making their purchasing decisions and OptionIt presents a unique and valuable solution that serves this audience.”

OptionIt already has deals with the Baltimore Ravens, Boston Celtics (Proman said there are Celtics fans at the finals who are there because they bought $20 options early in the season), and the Washington Capitals, among others. UM is the first college team to enter into a deal with OptionIt.

OptionIt’s deal comes on the heels of bad news for other companies in the ticket futures market. FirstDIBZ, which also gave fans the ability to reserve options on tickets but locked them into their purchases, is now effectively defunct after a scandal last year in which options for Super Bowl tickets were sold without tangible tickets attached. The company has been relaunched as TTR, Inc. and operates the DIBZ Platform, which conducts similar ticket options for various leagues. FirstDIBZ put its losses at $1 million and is now in settlement talks to compensate the hundreds of fans who lost money. Yoonew, another ticket futures Web site, closed in February because it could no longer cover its operating costs.

Proman stressed OptionIt operates differently than FirstDIBZ and yoonew. OptionIt has contracts with teams and can guarantee that their tickets are authentic. “You know you’re getting a legit, certified ticket and it comes directly from the rights holder,” he said. “The problem with FirsDIBZ is that they were going through brokers and unreliable sources on the secondary market to fulfill these orders. We will never serve an option if we don’t have a contractual agreement with the team. We don’t oversell events especially in the contingency scenario.”

FirstDIBZ brought a patent infringement suit against OptionIt, yoonew, and viagogo. OptionIt has responded with a countersuit. Proman again stressed that OptionIt is different from FirstDIBZ and others because the company has contracts with ticket rights holders and fans are not obligated to exercise their options.

“That’s why we see our platform as more sustainable,” he said. “It’s access without obligation. You can secure something and decide you don’t want it and not be on the hook to pay.”

Last Updated on July 2, 2010