Jeff Kline, the Future King of Colleges?

12 Jul

Cleveland-based ticketing company Veritix has signed one of its most high profile clients to date, bringing the National Collegiate Athletic Association into the fold with a deal to represent all championship events. The deal solidifies Veritix’s presence at the popular March Madness tournament and sets in motion plans to secure a number of other top rated college events. Venues Today recently caught up with Veritix President Jeff Kline to discuss the agreement.

Does this cover all NCAA championship games?

It’s for select NCAA championships because some will roll into our agreement as their current agreement with their provider expires, like the College World Series. We’ll be doing the Final Four this year in Houston, but some of the regional games will continue to be honored with different providers. The intent is for all NCAA Championships to roll into the agreement, which we’re thrilled about.

Does that include the Bowl Championship Series for NCAA football?

No, those are separate. The Final Four and the Frozen Four are included, and we’re in discussion right now for the College World Series, which has some time left on the existing agreement. We’ll also be doing archery, badminton and soccer plus a number of additional events.

How is Flash Seats going to be implemented in this agreement? Will it be a similar experience to purchasing tickets to a Rockets or Cavs game?

No. The agreement we have in place includes three components. Component number one is that we will be the exclusive ticketing provider for the select event. Part two is that the NCAA will use our platform to take reservations for subsequent championships, and then fulfill the orders. The third part of our agreement calls for the continued use of Flash Seats for student ticketing, like we have done for the last three years.

Will Flash Seats be used for resale?

No. We’ll provide the digital technology for the student sections where transfer and resale is not allowed.

And the tickets will be tied to their student ID cards?

Correct.

Will you be active in trying to stop resale at the Final Four?

That’s really got to come from the NCAA. They have their own policies in place and we have the platform and technology to help them do that if they choose to do so. They have a current agreement in place with Razorgator to provide secondary tickets.

How was this deal reached?

It started two years ago at the Final Four in Detroit when the NCAA came to us, looking for an alternative platform for student ticketing. Not only is it meant to sit atop any primary ticketing system, it’s also portable. You can take a few routers and scanners and be set up. It worked so well that during this year’s Final Four in Indianapolis we repeated what we did the previous year. We went to a venue that had another ticketing company as their primary provider, we set up Flash Seats for student tickets, and emailed the buyers. Tickets were associated with their unique ID and they were able to gain access to the venue. Plus we knew who each student was because they couldn’t transfer their tickets. That gave the NCAA exposure to our company, and when they sent out an RFP last year, we responded and were awarded the business.

It’s a very prestigious client. Is this your first entrance into the college market?

No, we have Boise State on our client list. We also sell tickets for Texas A&M and Oral Roberts University. We are thrilled that we were selected and this opens the doors for us to have more opportunity in the collegiate space.

That part of the market seems to have a lot of opportunity. Paciolan just announced that it has re-signed 10 clients in the past 60 days. What is Veritix’s strategy going forward?

We see it as a definite opportunity for us. We’re in the collegiate space and it’s no secret that we don’t have as many collegiate clients as Paciolan, but there are plenty of challenges and opportunities.

It’s been about six months since the Department of Justice handed down the consent decree, essentially forcing Ticketmaster to spin off Paciolan to Comcast-Spectacor and license its software to AEG. The obvious goal of this agreement was to make the ticketing space more competitive. Has it worked?

Since the merger, we’ve seen the market opening up a little bit for choices. People are looking for alternatives and the adoption of Flash Seats continues to grow. Almost 70 percent of people coming to the Cleveland Cavaliers playoffs game were all digital. We did a concert in Houston where 66 percent of the people who walked through the door were digital, so obviously the adoption of our technology is growing. – Dave Brooks

Contact: Jeff Kline, (216) 466-8055

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