Fans of the professional sports operations in Canada’s biggest city will soon see the PDF print-at-home ticket go the way of the dodo, as Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment has announced its intention to restrict ticketing options to mobile-only or standard cardboard ticket stock in coming years, according to multiple outlets.
The NHL’s Maple Leafs and NBA’s Raptors will eliminate the PDF ticket option beginning in the fall. Toronto FC of the MLS will allow print-at-home through the end of this season, but go mobile-only in 2019.
Ostensibly, the move is to reduce fraud, particularly where a PDF e-ticket is sold to more than one end user, a situation which means the second person to have what is technically a valid ticket to the game is denied admission because the ticket has already been scanned.
“We’re seeing more than 10 ejections and rejections a night… and these are the (counterfeit tickets) we know about,” MLSE Chief Commercial Officer Dave Hopkinton told The Star. “It’s overwhelmingly people who have been duped. Those are real tears.”
StubHub spokesperson Cameron Papp pushed back against the claim that fraud was a significant concern with the current infrastructure in place. “Counterfeit tickets are virtually a non-issue (with paperless ticketing),” Papp said. “We support any technology that improves the fan experience … But we don’t support it when mobile entry is introduced to curb secondary activity. Fans should have the right to freely transfer their tickets at any point of sale.”
A poll on The Star’s website accompanying the story on the shift shows consumers’ conflicted feelings on the forced move to mobile. A plurality of those who have cast votes – 2,029 of 4,269 total votes – selected either “I don’t think it will root out reselling and fraud (26.7%) or “There are going to be a lot of frustrated fans (21%).” Those who say “It makes sense for everything to be digital and encourage mobile electronic tickets” account for the largest single response at 38%, while just over 14% expressed their preference for the classic stock ticket.
There’s multiple reasons for the hesitancy for fans to embrace mobile-only ticketing. One needn’t look further than this week’s debacle at the Houston Rodeo, where failures in the mobile ticketing system led to massive lines and disappointed fans on the way to a Garth Brooks performance. The recent past is dotted with similar stories where internet issues, system failures, or user battery burn-out led to poor consumer experiences when their phone was their only access.