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Jets test out ‘Boarding Pass,’ a new season ticket plan with variable seating

A group of Jets fans before last season's

A group of Jets fans before last season's opener  against the Bengals at MetLife Stadium on Sunday, Sep. 11, 2016 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. Credit: Jim McIsaac

Most fans planning to attend Saturday night’s Jets preseason opener know where they will sit. But for some, that simple fact will remain a mystery until a couple hours before kickoff against the Titans at MetLife Stadium.

They are among those who bought a new season plan the Jets call their “Boarding Pass,” in which for $725 fans get the usual 10 preseason and regular-season tickets, with a twist: variable locations, over which they have no control.

The Jets’ only promise is that the face value of the 10 game tickets will exceed $725.

“We’re not explicitly saying it is one game downstairs or one game in the mezzanine club or x-number of games upstairs,” team president Neil Glat said. “But we certainly look to make sure they’re getting good value.”

Glat would not say how many people signed up before Wednesday’s deadline. But the idea is for those who have taken the plunge to evaluate it, then tell their friends — or so the Jets hope.

“The feedback we’ve gotten from people in the industry and people anecdotally thought it was very interesting, very innovative,” Glat said. “We’re not done. We’re going to continue to look for ways to improve it and innovate.”

The Jets are the first NFL team to offer a full season plan that involves seat locations that vary game to game.

Logic suggests Boarding Pass holders will get lesser seats for an attractive matchup such as 1 p.m. Oct. 15 against the Patriots, and better ones on a Thursday night against the Bills or Christmas Eve against the Chargers.

But Glat said that is not necessarily the case, as tickets will come from various sources. For example, lower deck seats might become available because visiting teams or players do not use their full allotment.

“So we’re putting those tickets to work,” Glat said.

Fans learn where they will sit via the Jets app upon arriving at MetLife, within two hours of kickoff. The system can accommodate groups of up to six who want to sit together.

The Boarding Pass is delivered and managed only through mobile phones, which reflects one of its target audiences: millennials comfortable with mobile apps, flexibility and new experiences.

“So when we looked at those trends, we came up with this product and thought it would be something fun and different and an opportunity to get some new fans who previously hadn’t been season ticket holders,” Glat said.

Offering a season ticket plan not tied to personal seat licenses would seem to risk annoying those who purchased PSLs when the stadium opened in 2010.

“Our goal is to continue to add value to the PSLs,” Glat said, “and we’re actually probably going to announce a couple of additional benefits for season ticket holders and a number of additional experiences and things that will be available just to our PSL holders.”

The Jets face an added marketing challenge this season, given what widely is perceived to be a rebuilding year that could result in many more losses than wins.

Glat insisted the strategy will remain essentially the same as it has in the past, though.

“It’s about football,” he said. “It’s about the players that have been on the team in the past and the new players and the new draft picks. It’s the young safeties and it’s new wide receivers. It’s draft picks. The focus historically and this year will be always on football and what’s happening on the field. That’s what the fans are most interested in.

“But we also continue to emphasize, and we’ve done this for many years: Come out and have a great time at the stadium. It’s friends, it’s family, it’s generational. These are opportunities to spend time with people you care about and do something and you can collectively root for a team.”

One positive for the Jets ticket market is that low expectations led to seven of eight regular-season home games being scheduled for 1 p.m. on Sundays, an indication of their lack of television appeal but traditionally the most popular time and day for ticket holders.

“We certainly have heard from season ticket holders that they love the Sunday at 1 o’clock games,” Glat said. “The league sets the schedule and the team will play whenever we’re scheduled to play. But 1 o’clock games on Sunday kind of fit into a lot of people’s lifestyles as Jets fans.”

Those days will mean a late-morning advisory to Boarding Pass holders about where exactly to board.

“Part of going forward is that we want people to experience it,” Glat said. “There are a lot of questions, and the best way for those questions to be answered are by fans using the Boarding Pass, going to games, and then their testimonials will be the best advertisement for us going forward that this is a pretty exciting product.”

New York Sports