FAYETTEVILLE -- The University of Arkansas is entering the secondary ticket market.
The athletics department Tuesday announced it is starting an exchange program that will allow season-ticket holders and prospective single-game buyers to sell and buy from the university, instead of through other secondary vendors such as StubHub and TicketMaster.
Through the new platform, called Razorback Ticket Exchange, season-ticket holders can sell back tickets to SEC games they are unable to attend and receive cash for up to face value. Those tickets will then be resold for market value to buyers who have reserved their place on a waiting list.
Arkansas has partnered with Lyte, a New York-based ticket exchange company, to operate the platform.
Prospective ticket buyers can begin making reservations Tuesday, and season-ticket holders can begin selling back their tickets Sept. 22. Arkansas is scheduled to play its first SEC home game Oct. 8 against Alabama.
Chris Freet, Arkansas' senior associate athletics director for external operations and strategic communications, said the project has been in the works for about a year.
"As opposed to putting it on the secondary market and waiting two days, two weeks, two months, whatever it may for a transaction to happen, this transaction will happen immediately, and they have 24 hours to accept our offer," Freet said of season-ticket holders. "Based on our schedule, it will probably be face value for every game this year."
Unlike some professional teams with similar partnerships, Arkansas will not require its season-ticket holders to use the new platform, but those who do will be guaranteed a legitimate transaction.
Freet said fans are turned away from every major football and basketball event at Arkansas because of fraudulent tickets.
"We really feel like our fans are going to win on both ends," Freet said. "There's something about the backing of the institution saying we guarantee that if you sell back one of your tickets, you're going to get face value. You know the institution is going to pay you back."
At least 38 college athletic programs have partnered with StubHub, but Arkansas was a holdout because "we were not comfortable with the high prices being charged primarily to maximize profits for a third party," Razorbacks Athletic Director Jeff Long said.
Freet said Lyte uses an algorithm that will allow Arkansas to offer tickets for about 20 percent less than the median price for which they are being sold on websites such as StubHub.
Many professional sports organizations have adopted a similar selling method known as dynamic ticket pricing. Prices fluctuate like stock depending on the performance of one or both teams from game-to-game, and are sold at real-time value.
"At the pro level, dynamic is used to try to maximize revenue," said Nels Popp, an assistant professor for sports administration at the University of North Carolina. "That would be one of the goals for Arkansas, but my guess is it is ... not entirely revenue-driven, but aimed at controlling the market a little bit better."
Freet said the platform may be added for nonconference football games, as well as basketball and baseball in the future, depending on how successful it is during its inaugural football season.
Sports on 09/08/2016