Okay, Husker fans, put on your thinking caps. Sept. 4, 2021, will be an important date for Husker football fans for what reason?
Is it because it'll be:
1) The 2021 Husker football home opener?
2) The first time in two years Husker fans will be able to see a Nebraska home football game in person?
3) Nebraska's first ever game with Fordham University?
4) The home opener for Scott Frost's fourth season as the Nebraska head coach?
5) The first Husker home football game Trev Alberts will attend as the new A.D. for Nebraska?
All the above are true, but there is one more reason this game will be historic.
E-tickets. Yup, it'll be the dawn of the digital ticket age for an actual Nebraska football game at Memorial Stadium. (Note: The spring game scrimmage used e-tickets.)
So why is Nebraska switching from printed tickets to a digital format? How will the change affect Husker fans' game day experience? And how does this "new" technology benefit Husker football fans?
Great questions. The answers have to do with concerns for security, convenience, the environment and cost savings. More about that in a minute.
Digital tickets are nothing new to commercial airlines and to the entertainment and sports industry. E-tickets are a bold piece of automation that some technologically challenged people (and I'm one of them) may be unwilling to embrace – at least initially.
But make no mistake: Come Sept. 4 when Nebraska opens its 2021 home football season, digital tickets will be the way fans get into Memorial Stadium. The days of having a ticket in your hand on game day are, for the most part, going the way of the horse and buggy, the double wing formation and VHS tapes.
For most people, the switch won't be any big deal. And as I said, the Husker spring game that drew over 36,000 fans reportedly went smoothly. And many sports fans in Omaha for the College World Series this summer had their first taste of the new technology.
Will digital tickets save money? Yes. Universities like UNL that no longer have to process paper tickets can eliminate material costs and avoid shipping and handling expenses as well.
And by not having to print paper tickets and envelopes, the environment may be helped.
Security is another big plus for digital tickets. The days of losing your ticket (this happened to me once) and being unable to see the game are over. Just remember to bring your charged cellphone, download the app and get your ticket scanned digitally as you enter the stadium.
Under the old way, if someone stole your tickets, there was little that could be done to retrieve them. But not with e-tickets. Just scan your phone and, voila, you're in the game.
And if any Husker fan isn't comfortable with cellphones, apps and digital tickets, he can request a "real" ticket to be picked up at the Will Call window at Memorial Stadium.
Those fans who have collected ticket stubs to Husker football games may not be able to get them. (The UNL ticket office told me this week that printed tickets might still be available.)
A friend of mine who has been a longtime College World Series season ticket holder had his first experience with digital tickets last month in Omaha.
Of the new technology, he said, "For us, it was really easy to get into the game. But for some people who were in the line with us, it was frustrating. Due to some technical snafus, they couldn't get in. They ended up having to go to a bar to watch the game."
So these people bought tickets, paid for parking, walked to the ballpark, but were denied entrance? Ouch!
If that happens in Lincoln come Sept. 4, Husker fans will be livid. Okay, so maybe digital ticketing works 99% of the time. What about the other 1% (.01 x 90,000=900 fans) who might not be able to get in? If they've driven a long way to get to Memorial Stadium and can't see the game in person, there will be some pretty unhappy Husker fans – and lots of extra people crammed into the bars in Lincoln.