Jets Want to Know What You’re Buying

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By: Tom Van Riper

Selling a few more cold beers or team caps may not recoup the revenue that Jets owner Woody Johnson lost out on by not selling all his PSLs, but every little bit counts.

During the Jets’ opening Monday night loss to the Baltimore Ravens, executives from Roundarch, a Chicago-based builder of web and mobile applications, showed off the new revenue-tracking device they built for Johnson and Jets brass in the company’s Meadowlands Stadium suite. It’s a 42-inch touchscreen that spits out up-to-the minute sales figures for concessions, tickets, parking, and merchandise. Call it the Woody Johnson command center.

The Jets are the first major sports team to try the Roundarch product. Company execs, hoping it will catch on, plan to demonstrate it around the NFL this season. Visiting Ravens executives were checking it out Monday night.

The application breaks everything down by category and individual item, while highlighting the best and worst performers. If Diet Pepsi is a particuarly big seller at a refreshment stand on the upper concourse, Johnson will know immediately. If a given parking lot that’s usually filled to capacity is a quarter empty today, he’ll know that too.

Traditionally, team executives wait until after game day to review stadium sales data and make adjustments for the following week. The idea behind real-time tracking is the ability to change promotions and adjust inventory on the fly to nab additional customers. If Mark Sanchez jerseys aren’t selling well at one of the team stores, Johnson can alert his merchandise manager, who could display them more prominently or, conceivably, mark down the price a little.

With thousands of potential customers walking the stadium, “the idea is to spur action between the tailgate and the seats,” said David Vanslette, a Roundarch vice president.

For Johnson and the Jets, game-day revenue tracking might prove to be a mere first step. Drilling down to individual customer behavior – who’s buying what, who’s not in his seat, who’s leaving early – yields even more valuable information. “I told him he ought to put RFID on every ticket,” said Vanslette. Tempting as that is, management isn’t yet ready to infringe on fan privacy to that degree. But in the new world of wired sports stadium, can it be far behind?