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Tampa Bay Lightning boost sales with RFID-enabled team jerseys

RFID is making its way onto the professional sports stage. The Tampa Bay Lightning of the National Hockey League has embedded RFID tags into 10,000 jerseys given to season ticket holders this season.

The jerseys, which have RFID tags sewn into the sleeve, allow fans to receive discounts on food, beverages and retail items when wearing the jersey at home games. Season ticket holders are each given an exclusive jersey before the season begins.

Tampa Bay Lightning jerseys like the ones worn by these fans are now RFID-enabled

Working with NCR Corp., the Lightning embedded 250 RFID readers at point of sale locations throughout the arena. Fans receive discounts when the jersey is scanned by readers at checkout at a concession stand or in the retail store. Since implementing the program, the Lightning has seen a significant increase in demand for full season tickets, as well as a sea of blue jerseys in the stands at home games.

“This innovative technology enables us to track and identify spending patterns and preferences of our season ticket members to help us provide even better service,” said Brad Lott, executive vice president of sales and marketing, Tampa Bay Lightning. “Our season ticket members absolutely love theirnew jerseysand are taking advantage of the discounts provided exclusively to them.”

In 2010, the team’s new ownership challenged team executives to build a unique program to jumpstart season ticket sales. The result was the season ticket holder jersey concept.

There is no word yet about whether the Lightning plan to tie the RFID-enabled jerseys into social media kiosks that allow fans to instantly post photos to Facebook and other social media sites. In September, RFID 24-7 reported that the NBA, NHL and major league baseball were all pursuing RFID for customer loyalty and social media applications. With a fan base of well over 100 million, those three sports represent only a fraction of the market potential for RFID and social media in pro sports.

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