For Fordham University, the decision to implement a new paperless ticket technology in which tickets to football and men’s basketball games are scanned at...

For Fordham University, the decision to implement a new paperless ticket technology in which tickets to football and men’s basketball games are scanned at the gate is symbolic of the school’s attempts to upgrade the entire athletic program.

Fordham, which is upgrading its Football Championship Subdivision (i.e. Division I-AA) program to the full 63-scholarship level, increasing the budget of its men’s basketball program in hopes of competing in the Atlantic 10 and scheduling men’s hoops games at New Jersey’s Izod Center and at Madison Square Garden, began its partnership with the North Carolina-based TicketReturn at the Rams’ football home opener Saturday, September 11.

Fans who purchased a ticket to the game against the University of Rhode Island were able to print it out at home and have it scanned at the gates surrounding Jack Coffey Field while season ticket holders had the option of receiving a “Season Ticket” card — similar to a credit card — that was also scanned at the gate.

“It was a much-needed move,” Fordham Coordinator of Tickets and Business Operations Jess Powers told TicketNews. “The system we had been using was very antiquated. There had been discussions in the past few years on upgrading the system and last spring we were granted approval to move forward and purchase a new, updated ticket software system. We researched several companies and found that TicketReturn was a good fit for us for what they offered.”

While an automated ticket system would seem to reduce the need for “ticket takers” at Fordham games, Powers said the technology from TicketReturn — which is described on its Web site as a “developer of integrated box office and internet ticketing services” — shouldn’t eliminate the need for that staff and will actually maximize the involvement of those working at and for the box office. The system also allows for a ticket resale option.

“You will find that the staff will be more knowledgeable and efficient,” Powers said. “The new system will require them to know how to print tickets directly from the ticket booth as well as scanning tickets at point of entries. Rather than simply handing a ticket through the window, they now have to understand not only how to operate the ticket software but also what they are selling. They are now a much more active participant in the process.”

The new system will also save time for Powers and her staff before and after a game: She used to have to print stacks of tickets in advance and then, following a game, count the unsold tickets and refund them into the system. With this technology, there is no need to preemptively print tickets and Powers can simply upload the information from the scanners at the gates to determine a game’s attendance figure.

Powers said she doesn’t expect fans to see an immediate decrease in the amount of time they spend on line getting into football and basketball games but that the real effect will be felt next season, after the Fordham fanbase is fully aware of the technological changes.

While not all of the 2,952 people who attended Fordham’s 27-25 win September 11 knew about the new ticket system, the first night could not have gone much better for Powers and her department. “Everything went great and was actually the smoothest game as far as ticketing operations I’ve had here at Fordham,” Powers said. “Printing from the ticket booth went well, the scanners worked at the gates and there were no issues. The ability for people to print their tickets at home helped a bit as well with the lines to purchase tickets.

“I’d be lying if I [said] I wasn’t nervous going into the first game [wondering] if it was all going to work out, but everything really went smooth and I couldn’t be happier with the system upgrade.”