In past years, students received an email over the summer offering multiple season ticket packages for Boston College’s revenue sports. Entrance into games was limited to those students who had purchased tickets before they ran out, and at the beginning of each season, students would receive printable tickets via email. This year, however, only one package-the Gold Pass-was offered. It was made available to all students and included paperless ticketing and access to all BC sporting events for a single price.
While its price point of $175 is higher than the individual prices for the previous football, men’s basketball, and men’s ice hockey packages, the cost of the Gold Pass is still a better deal considering the access that it grants. Although some fans expressed disappointment at the beginning of the year that they could not buy season tickets to a single sport, the extra cost is more than made up for in the extra access that students receive.
Perhaps the most important element of the Gold Pass is the new points system that accompanied it. This system, which awards students points for attending sporting events, incentivized students to attend traditionally under-attended games. Usually, the demand for games was low enough that the system allowed for everyone who wanted to attend a game to do so. There were certain events, however, such as the men’s ice hockey game versus Boston University, which required students to have accumulated a certain number of points in order to attend.
This ticketing system for high-demand games was beneficial in two ways. First, it increased attendance at most sporting events, and second, it created a way to decide which students got to attend high-demand games. In the past, the first students to purchase tickets over the summer were the ones who got to go to these games-hardly an equitable way to make such a decision.
Although the Gold Pass was a success overall, like any new system, it has its kinks. Some students studying abroad complained that the points system was unfair to them, since they had no opportunity to accumulate points during the fall semester. The athletic department has stated that it has a method for dealing with this problem, however, it was not clear whether students returning from abroad were aware of this.
Another problem that has emerged is the lack of guidelines for exactly how points can be earned. While it is clear that attendance at games is necessary, there are details that are unclear, such as when students can show up to a game and how long they have to stay to receive points. With the current system, some students simply show up to a game, swipe in, and then immediately leave, which hardly seems fair to the students who come and watch the whole game.
One way to address this would be to require students to swipe in by a certain time-for instance, before halftime at a basketball game-and then to have students swipe their IDs as they are leaving the game as well. While this is not necessarily the most convenient way to make sure people are not simply checking in and then checking out, it is one way to stop what has become a noticeable phenomenon at games. Additionally, problems with IDs not swiping correctly, and a policy for what happens if a student shows up to a game and has forgotten his or her ID, should be addressed.
Finally, a major issue currently facing the Gold Pass is how it can promote attendance at spring sports. While giving games with low expected turnout high point values, offering bonus points for showing up early, and designating some games as “double point” games has helped boost student appearance, with the last high-demand game having passed, there is little incentive to go to any more games. Assuming that points do not carry over from year to year, there is not currently a reason to gain more points other than the desire to appear on the “Top 10” leaderboard on the Rewards website. Offering a 10 percent carryover of points from year to year, which amounts to no more than five points for most Gold Pass holders, could solve this problem by allowing students to gain a modest head start for next semester. It also addresses the issue of senior priority, which was raised during the year.
Another way to encourage attendance at spring sports would be to offer perks to the students with the most points, such as bus rides to Hockey East games, trips to away football games, or the opportunity to watch a game with Athletic Director Brad Bates. These are currently only a few enticements that would surely motivate more students to come out to the spring sports, and the athletic department should look into even more creative ways to incentivize these games.