Lions to drop Flash Seats ticketing, return to Ticketmaster this season

Courtesy of Crain’s Detroit Business:

The Detroit Lions will return to Ticketmaster for the 2018 season, jettisoning the Dan Gilbert-owned Flash Seats paperless digital ticketing system used at Ford Field since 2013.

The team declined to comment on the switch, which was first disclosed in Feb. 8 letter from Lions President Rod Wood to season ticket holders. The Lion’ change in ticket technology providers was first reported last week by ESPN in a story about the Dallas Cowboys opting out of the NFL’s deal with Ticketmaster to instead sell ticket via SeatGeek.

What the change in ticket providers will mean in terms of technology and stadium entry procedures for Lions fans isn’t yet known.

The Lions replaced Ticketmaster with Cleveland-based Veritix, the original corporate owner of Flash Seats, when it signed a five-year contract in 2013. It expires this summer, and that’s when the Lions are expected to make a formal public announcement about the return to Ticketmaster.

Games and events at Ford Field are ticketed now through the Flash Seats app. Instead of a paper ticket, fans have three options to enter the stadium, all of which are scanned electronically at the gate: The credit card they used to buy the tickets on Flash Seats; their driver’s license, which can be registered on the website; or via a QR code generated by the Flash Seats mobile app.

The staffer using the hand-held scanner at the gate then provides the fan with a paper ticket location that’s printed at the door.

Ticketmaster’s NFL ticketing is a similar system. It already operates the NFL’s official resale ticket exchange, and its “Presence” venue software aids an ongoing plan to combine primary and secondary ticket sales into a single Ticketmaster NFL app.

The Lions dropping Flash Seats is the latest development in the rivalry between two ticketing companies that have a near monopoly on the market.

Gilbert’s Rockbridge Growth Equity LLC provided Veritix with a five-year, $100 million credit facility in 2010. Veritix was formed in 2006, and its technology has been used by pro sports, the NCAA and Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix.

Veritix and Anschutz Entertainment Group’s Los Angeles-based Outbox AXS announced a merger in 2015, but in the strict business sense appears to instead have been AXS buying a majority stake of Veritix with Gilbert maintaining a minority ownership.

The Veritix name has been replaced with AXS on the Flash Seats site and app, and most of the Veritix executives have left the company.

Combining Veritix and AXS created the second-largest ticketing company in North America, behind Ticketmaster, with more $2 billion in annual sales, the companies said at the time of the deal.

By contrast, Ticketmaster Entertainment Inc. accounted for $30 billion in sales from with 500 million ticket transaction in 2017, according to parent company Beverly Hills, Calif-based Live Nation Entertainment’s annual report.

 

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