PORTLAND, Ore. — My nose was nearly bleeding when we finally found our seats at the Trail Blazers game on Monday night. Up high in the 300 level, my buddy and I had paid just $35 each for the less-than-stellar tickets.
So when the PA announcer started talking about the team’s ticket upgrade program, my ears perked up. This was exactly what the Mariners had implemented a few months ago, and it looked like the Blazers had done the same for this season.
I took out my smartphone and connected to the new souped-up arena WiFi that the Blazers installed this season. That gave me speedy Internet — a rarity at sporting events these days — as I headed for the URL posted on the big-screen: blazers.expapp.com.
Powered by a company called Experience — which also partnered with the NFL’s Seattle Seahawks this season — the platform asks you for your name, email and phone number. Then, you enter how many tickets you’re looking for, what the occasion is — “cheer,” “date,” or “family,” for example — and it shows you potential upgrades based available tickets inside the arena.
There were a couple enticing offers. We could have paid an additional $27 each to sit in the 200-level, and $40 each to sit about 20 rows up in the lower bowl.
In the end, we didn’t end up forking over the extra money to get out of the cheap seats. Still, though, it was nice accessing fast Internet and being able to upgrade seats was a really cool option.
During the game, I didn’t even get a chance to check out the new Blazers mobile app, which features live camera streams and highlight replays only for those inside the arena. It’s something I definitely would have tried had I known about it (perhaps the Blazers could do a better job of marketing this to fans inside the arena).
I’ve riffed on the connected fan experience with smartphones before, noting my concern of people only looking at their phones instead of what’s happening in front of them at live sporting events. But I have to say: The fast, free WiFi and upgrade options definitely improved my time at the game.
Of course, doing all this drained my battery to zero percent by the time I left the arena — do the Blazers have an app for that yet?