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Washington Nats pilot RFID smart cards for season ticket holders

RFID is being used in more and more ticketing applications at major sporting events, and the Washington Nationals are the latest to make use of the technology. The team is piloting RFID smart cards with 300 season ticket holders this season. According to a report in the Sports Business Journal, the club plans to roll out the cards to all season ticket holders next year.

Nationals Park is equipped with 24 RFID-enabled turnstiles, where fans scan their smartcard ticket instead of waiting to scan traditional tickets by ushers using handheld readers. With the RFID system, park officials say fans moved through the turnstyles in less than three seconds, as opposed to eight to 10 seconds when ushers were required to scan tickets.

Sports stadiums are interested in tracking who their largest spenders are during games. In addition, RFID-enabled ticketing opens up all kinds of opportunities for engaging with social media sites like Facebook and Twitter. (Read RFID 24-7′s coverage of how NBA and MLB are pursuing social media and RFID.)

Here is an excerpt from the Sports Business Journal story:

The quicker and easier fan entry into Nationals Park has helped boost the club’s per cap merchandise and concession sales, club officials say. On Opening Day they were up 27 percent compared with the start of 2011.

“The early returns on the RFID system have been very encouraging,” said Nationals Chief Operating Officer Andy Feffer. “Fans in our market are very accustomed to scanning tickets themselves and self-entry with things like the Metro system. With the simpler entry into the ballpark, and promotions like our bobblehead giveaways, there’s no question we’re already seeing fans spending more time inside the gates before games, and a lift in areas such as our per caps.”

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