UNM adopts mobile tickets for games

UNM sports fans will be able to use use their mobile devices for the first time to scan tickets at the gate instead of carrying paper versions. Associated Press file photo

Your smartphone will make it a little easier to be a Lobo fan this season.

The University of New Mexico’s new ticketing system, which officially launches later this month with the football opener at home against Sam Houston State in Dreamstyle Stadium, will allow fans to use their mobile devices to scan tickets at the gate instead of paper versions.

It’s but the latest innovation in what has been a drastic overhaul of UNM’s ticketing office the last few months. Driven by a new partnership with ticketing services agency Paciolan, the athletic department has broken away from the rest of the university to create its own system that integrates the Lobo Club, athletics and the overall fan experience.

Paciolan has contracts with dozens of schools=, including more than half the members in the Mountain West Conference. UNM is the eighth school in the league to sign a deal, joining Colorado State, Fresno State, Nevada, Hawaii, UNLV, Utah State and Wyoming.

“We needed to have a system that all of our different arms are pulling the rope in the same direction,” said David Williams, UNM deputy athletic director for external affairs. “We had so many outdated systems in place from systems to marketing, from social media, from communications. We needed to first modernize and then allow all of them to fully be able to collaborate and integrate and work together.”

The first step, Williams said, was understanding the internal structure of UNM’s athletic department and its relationship with the Lobo Club and UNM Foundation. Until now, the three operated independently while the ticketing office for athletics was tied into a myriad of nonsports events on the main campus.

The last eight months have seen the Lobo Club merged into the athletic department and the division of the school’s lone ticketing office run by physical services. The same people who sold tickets to events in Popejoy Hall also sold seats for basketball in The Pit. It was a confusing and cumbersome relationship.

“The change would then allow us to better integrate with our Lobo Club, even for something as simple as billing for our fan base,” Williams said. “In the past, people have gotten two separate bills; one from Lobo Club, one from ticketing and they never talked. Those two processes did not communicate with each other. And, frankly, it’s caused some problems for us, problems that we have tried to find and try to correct.”

Athletic director Eddie Nunez said it’s a one-stop shop that should make the process of getting into Lobo events easier. Fans can scan interactive maps on their phones, tablets or traditional computers, purchase seats and have tickets sent digitally or through the mail.

Digital tickets can be scanned at the gate.

It makes transferring tickets from one person to another as easy as the click of a button. Until now, that simple element of modern ticket-taking — see your local movie theater as an example — had been a foreign concept for the athletic department.

Nunez said buying a ticket is now tied directly to the school’s more aggressive marketing campaign designed to engage fans on social media and keep them informed with game-day events.

NEW The New Mexican sports staff breaks down Week 1 prep football matchups and provides an overview of the area's soccer scene.

Paciolan was introduced to UNM as a subsidiary of Learfield IMG College.

Learfield recently had its 10-year multimedia rights contract with UNM end in favor of Outfront Media, but Nunez said the relationship between the school and Paciolan will continue.

“Paciolan has offered us some really unique ways to market our teams but also get our tickets out in the marketplace,” he said. “It’s only the start of a lot.”

UPDATES

Football: As of earlier this week, just over 5,000 season tickets had been renewed from a year ago. Williams said he believes that number is down from years past but isn’t quite sure because the accounting and record-keeping policy wasn’t entirely reliable.

“Honestly, when I came in here, I asked the question of, ‘Tell me what our percentage of season ticket renewals were from the previous year,’ ” he said. “They couldn’t tell me because our systems in place were so poor and our ticketing system was so poor before that they could not tell me the number of season tickets that we had renewed, the percentage.”

The football opener is Aug. 31 and tickets range from $10 to $125. It’s one of only two home games between late August and the second weekend in October.