The Miami Heat became the first NBA team to switch to mobile-only entry for the upcoming season on Thursday.
Fans will no longer be able to enter American Airlines Arena with a traditional paper ticket and will need to present their smartphone to enter. Even if fans purchase tickets at the arena box office, they will still need to show their phone at the entrance.
While no other NBA team has gone this route as of yet, it has gained popularity in recent years around other professional leagues. The Montreal Canadiens of the NHL also switched to a mobile entry recently, though the team does have a paper option available as well for season ticket holders.
According to the Heat, one out of every three fans in Miami entered via their smartphone last season. The Heat like other teams in the league, had mobile access as an option in recent seasons. Mobile access is supposed to bring convenience for fans and an extra level of security as well. The electronic configuration can possibly have a positive effect on fraud.
In addition to that security upgrade, there could be an incentive for teams to switch to this mobile-only configuration. The digital information associated with this set-up could lead to extra marketing opportunities for the team.
One drawback of the mobile-only plan, is the lack of a souvenir ticket stub. Some fans will collect stubs of all events they have attended, especially if a historic moment takes place. This factor was pointed out by Miami Marlins pitcher Brad Ziegler on Twitter earlier on Thursday.
It is possible that the team could come up with some type of plan to take care of that situation for fans. Much like the Canadiens, the Heat could consider adding a paper keepsake option at an extra cost. There should be plenty of feedback from fans on this new setup once the games begin.
Miami's first home game of the preseason will be played on October 1st.