Utah Jazz will ditch Ticketmaster next year

Team owner Ryan Smith believes his investment in SeatGeek will benefit fans, too.

The Utah Jazz are ditching Ticketmaster in a move they hope provides a better experience for fans at Vivint Arena.

SeatGeek will be the team’s new ticketing provider starting in the 2023-24 season and beyond, the Jazz are set to announce Thursday morning.

The move comes after team owner Ryan Smith became an investor in the company in August, part of a $238 million round of investment that also featured capital from Wellington Management and Arctos Sports Partners. That last name will be familiar to Jazz fans, as Arctos bought part of the Smith Entertainment Group earlier this year.

Beginning Oct. 1, 2023, all Vivint Arena events — Jazz games, concerts, shows, everything — will use SeatGeek rather than Ticketmaster to implement ticketing. Just as before, fans will be able to buy and sell their tickets, and scan into Vivint Arena using their phone, they’ll now just do it with SeatGeek’s technology behind it.

The idea is that the partnership will help the Jazz provide a better ticketing experience to their fans.

“We’re very focused on the Net Promoter Score,” Jazz Chief Revenue Officer Chris Barney said of the metric that measures whether or not a fan would be likely to recommend a product or service to a friend. “Tracking fan sentiment and doing surveys and constantly asking our fans questions on ways we can improve. And so much of SeatGeek platform ... we just really feel like it will be additive to our fans.”

One example that might help a fan enjoy a game more: with SeatGeek’s app, fans may be able to “upgrade” their tickets at or before a game, paying the difference between their current tickets and the new closer ones. They can also get a rideshare to and from games through the app, and SeatGeek says more features to their app are expected in the coming months.

“There are so many industries that have been disrupted by technology, and ticketing historically has not been one of them. That means that there are just so many different ways that you can make the fan experience better,” said Jack Groetzinger, CEO and co-founder of SeatGeek. “I’m thinking, how can we make it easier for fans to get better seats, or have more seamless experience at the venue, to actually have more fun? We want to facilitate people having one of their best nights in a year.”

The Jazz also hope that SeatGeek will be able to solve various internal ticketing challenges. One difficulty the Jazz have now is in distributing tickets to Jr. Jazz kids and their parents or guardians efficiently. Another is in managing (and marketing to) all of the various ticket buyers differently — a season ticket holder has different needs than an out-of-town visitor to a Jazz game. They hope that SeatGeek’s analytic tools will be able to provide better data internally so they can understand their fanbase better.

Will this deal mean higher costs for fans in terms of ticketing fees? Barney noted that their contract with SeatGeek’s fees “calls out very specifically that they can’t go outside of any sort of industry standard.”

“It’s something we’re constantly, constantly talking about,” Barney said. “We see commentary in our surveying about it and we’re always very, very sensitive to that.”

Groetzinger noted that SeatGeek also allows fans to search for tickets “All-In,” with fees included, so there’s not a surprise at the checkout page.

Overall, SeatGeek figures to serve a growing Jazz ticket base. The team expects to have about 12,000 season tickets sold by the time sales stop at the end of November. In addition, they have about 400 fans who are paying $65 per month for the team’s membership program, which provides those fans with available cheap seats to a majority of games in that month.

“Our fan base, I think, genuinely believes in the vision of (CEO) Danny (Ainge) and Ryan and what they’re wanting to do. And I’m just really grateful that we have leadership that’s articulating a vision and isn’t afraid necessarily to kind of let people know where we’re at, where we’re going, why we’re going in the direction we are,” Barney said. “We’ve sold significantly more new season tickets than what we actually lost. We’re in a great place — the business is very healthy right now.”

The Jazz are SeatGeek’s fourth NBA partner, along with the Nets, Cavaliers and Pelicans. SeatGeek also provides ticketing services to the Dallas Cowboys, Baltimore Ravens, NASCAR, MLS, and half of the English Premier League.

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