The Seattle Seahawks are hopping on the digital first bandwagon, and taking it an extra step further – penalizing fans who want to receive their season tickets in physical form with a $35 add-on fee. The punitive fee only applies to new season ticket holders for the 2018 season, but that could change in the future, as could the penalty amount for those wishing to keep from being tethered to a mobile device has not been determined for any year beyond this one.
Print at home PDF tickets are also falling victim to the team’s efforts, which are an attempt to restrict all ticket transfer to their own closed-loop system.
“Mobile ticketing continues to be the most secure, convenient and flexible way to receive and manage tickets,” reads an email sent to season ticket holders by the team, published in the Seattle Times. “For these reasons and a few others, print-at-home tickets (PDFs) are being discontinued this season to further combat fraud and counterfeiting of printed tickets. All transferred or resold tickets will transition to mobile delivery through the Seahawks app.”
The reaction from fans has been mixed at best, with many wary of mobile-only systems which are prone to outages during peak usage, as well as locking users from utilizing the free market to resell tickets for games they cannot attend. Atlanta Falcons fans were stitched up when a major outage struck Ticketmaster’s systems last fall, as were Houston Rockets fans during a Flash Seats outage earlier this year. NFL teams have also been developing a reputation for closely scrutinizing the usage of tickets by their own season ticket holders, revoking tickets from those they see as not coming to enough games, as one fan from Denver (another mobile-first franchise) learned last year.
“Come on, Seahawks! We gotta keep those hold-in-your-hand tickets. It’s traditional. It’s real,” wrote Peter House, a season ticket holder since 1997 in an email forwarded to the Times. “Ticketless entry just turns one more good thing into those ephemeral pixels on a screen. It will take all the fun out of giving tickets to my friends and family. What will I do now? Send them an e-mail?’’
Seattle’s management should consider the pushback that occurred in Montreal over the past year, when the team walked back its additional fees for non-mobile tickets amid major fan outcry and a poor performance on the ice. “Many of you were disappointed with the approach we took related to printed tickets,” wrote Canadiens owner Geoff Molson following the season. “We heard you loud and clear. Next season, there will be no print fee for printed tickets.”
Until that point, Seattle fans will have limited ability to acquire tickets that are not mobile-only. First-year season ticket holders will have to pay the fee for physical tickets, and the team is reportedly only planning on selling single game tickets in physical form for one day before reverting all sales to mobile specific tickets.