Fans who walk through the turnstiles this fall at Milan Puskar Stadium won’t be handing over a paper ticket to watch the West Virginia University football team play.
WVU announced Tuesday that it would move fully to mobile ticketing — getting tickets via smartphone rather than through the mail or printing them from their computers — for the 2020 football season. In the release on the decision, the university touted the benefits of improved health and safety measures from contactless points of entry, added convenience and an ease of flow through the Puskar Stadium gates.
The university is designing ways to bolster safety from transmission of the COVID-19 virus while still allowing fans to enter the stadium to watch the Mountaineers play. It first became an option in 2013 for single-game tickets, but now will expand to all tickets.
There will, however, be an alternative for fans who don’t own smartphones to still be able to attend.
“There will be a process in place,” said Matt Wells, WVU’s senior associate athletic director of external affairs. “It likely will include elements like picking up the tickets at the ticket office on game day, entering a specified gate for fans with paper tickets, because it will change the entry procedure a little bit. The contactless procedure for mobile ticketing is a little different than the procedure associated with a hard ticket.”
Wells said ticket holders without smartphones will be able to contact the WVU ticket office to work out a process for their entry, and more information also will be released later.
Fans will show the mobile tickets to gate attendants at the stadium, who will scan the barcode for entry. The university said there will be an opportunity for those who collect tickets to buy a commemorative ticket for the 2020 season.
WVU also mentioned the benefit of heightened security against counterfeit or stolen tickets, as fans will store their tickets directly on their smartphones. They will be able to immediately transfer tickets to friends or family and WVU’s partnership with StubHub will continue.
The transition will require fans to have up-to-date email addresses for their ticket accounts and they can log on to those accounts at WVUGAME.com to make sure their email addresses are accurate.
Wells said WVU has sold about 16,500 season tickets so far, which is about 20 percent lower than the last three or four years. Some fans, he said, are waiting to see what limitations there may be in seating capacity before they decide to buy tickets.
“We’re still working through our normal follow-up process,” he said. “Even in a quote-unquote normal year, after the priority deadline expires, we’ll spend a couple of weeks reaching out to those customers who have not yet renewed. … We’ll kind of know where we stand at the end of this month.
“And, obviously,” Wells added, “there are still a lot more questions than answers.”
Among those questions is what capacity Puskar Stadium will be allowed to hold when the college football season begins. There has been talk nationwide about limiting capacity to ensure proper social distancing.
WVU hasn’t come down with one concrete plan, Wells said, because the variables can change from week to week or day to day. So the university has created the framework for several plans, each one dealing with a different level of stadium capacity.
“You put in the different contingencies of what this could look like once you adjust, react and adapt when you know what your numbers look like,” he said. “But you also have to be flexible enough to, if in July it’s one number and in September or October it’s a different number.
“You kind of have plan A, B, C and D and depending on when you get the point you have the appropriate guidance from medical experts, you can grab a plan off the shelf and say here’s the one we’re implementing.”