Boston College Athletics has instituted a number of changes to make the gameday experience better for students during the 2014-15 academic year, especially at home football games.
At the beginning of the summer, BC announced a new smartphone app for the Gold Pass, the ticketing program introduced last year that gives students access to every BC home game. The price increased in its second year from $175 to $199, but the package comes with an additional home football game, making the increase understandable.
The new app has been a success so far. As of Sept. 8, the app has been downloaded approximately 4,700 times. Everything ran smoothly at the home opener against Pittsburgh last Friday. The swiping issues from last year’s opener appear to be resolved, which is a major improvement for BC. Extra staffing at the gates helped forestall and resolve issues that cropped up at games last season. The athletic department has also accommodated students without smartphones by setting up iPad check-in tables near the gates.
Every indication has been given that the Gold Pass point system should work better this year with the new app and tweaks made from student feedback after the pilot year. Access to high demand hockey and basketball games, which is determined by Gold Pass points, will work through the app. Students now not only have the incentive to attend games, arrive early, and stay late so that they can get into the higher-profile events, but also an enticing list of rewards available at certain point totals.
Last year, student attendance tended to diminish as games progressed, as students would come to the event, swipe in to receive their Gold Pass points, and eventually leave before game’s end. In order to entice students to remain at the games for the duration, there are now bonus points for students who stay until it is over. Students must check in via the app, which utilizes an electronic geo-fence that tracks when they are in the stadium. Leaving the stadium will cause the app to check the user out. Although it is still too early to see the ramifications of this change, it will be interesting to watch what happens to attendance as the year progresses.
Outside of student-specific upgrades, BC has also done an admirable job improving the gameday experience as a whole. The new video boards in Alumni Stadium have been a long time coming. This Saturday’s red bandanna-inspired uniforms, with special designs on the helmets, socks, cleats, and gloves, are a touching and appropriate tribute to BC hero Welles Crowther. Welles, the live bald eagle mascot, will also return for four home games this season, starting with the USC game on Saturday.
Additionally, the athletic department announced yesterday that, in anticipation of large crowds at Saturday’s game versus USC and the Oct. 18 game against Clemson, BC will be setting up a “Superfan Zone” that will offer entertainment and prize giveaways to student Gold Pass holders who may not be able to gain access to Shea Field after it reaches capacity. Considering the popularity of tailgating and other gameday celebrations, this is a smart move on BC’s part—hopefully the Superfan Zone will prove an effective way to enhance student spirit before high-demand games.
In fact, the real challenges that BC faces will come about when these high-demand games crop up, as well as special events like the Beanpot and postseason contests. The athletic department under director Brad Bates’ leadership has steadily improved how it accommodates students, and it has set itself on a path to continue those improvements this year.
Featured Image by Emily Fahey / Heights Editor