Q&A: Explaining the switch to a Season Ticket Holder Card with Mike Ernst

Fire Senior VP Mike Ernst discusses the switch to a Season Ticket Holder card in 2014

Senior Vice President of Ticket Sales, Service, Marketing & Club Operations Mike Ernst answers questions regarding the new Season Ticket Holder benefits offered this year and other enhancements to the 2014 package.  If your question isn’t answered here, feel free to use the #AskErnst on Twitter and write to @RealMikeErnst.

Chicago-Fire.com: Mike, what’s the big news for Season Ticket Holders in 2014?

Mike Ernst: Three big improvements: 20% off all regularly priced concession items, excluding alcohol, all online Account Manager fees waived and, my favorite, the Season Ticket Card.

C-F.com: So you’re saying more discounts and fewer fees?

ME: Yes! Our goal is to improve the overall fan experience, especially for our dedicated Season Ticket Holders. No one likes annoying online fees and everyone likes saving money at the stadium.

C-F.com: So then, the Season Ticket Card. What is it, why the switch and why is it beneficial for STH’s?

ME: Great question. The Season Ticket Card allows Chicago Fire Season Ticket Holders and their guests’ convenient access to all Fire home matches. Instead of keeping track of multiple paper tickets, Season Ticket Holders can now access each and every ticket they own (including Meet the Team) for every event on one card. Individuals can simply show the card at any gate, and our guest services staff will scan the card and provide a seat locator pass for each ticket on the spot. We’re proud to offer this new feature as it represents a big stride by the Club to improve the overall experience for our Season Ticket Holders.

C-F.com Why is the Season Ticket Card your favorite out of the news today?

ME: Great question, again! (laughs) Convenience. Can you bold that?

You don’t have to go anywhere to get paper tickets. My whole thought on it is, I don’t use paper for really anything, debit card, phone, etc. I don’t like the inconvenience to get paper items like tickets at will call, re-printing at the box office, or waiting on the mail. The Season Ticket Card and the associated removal of all the fees from Account Manager will be more convenient for people who are coming to our matches.

I know it’ll take time for our supporters to feel comfortable forwarding, printing and the other new aspects but, in the end, I’m confident it will create positive and memorable experiences.

C-F.com: Enough of the background, let’s get down to the details. How do I use the card?

ME: I’ve seen it first-hand elsewhere and, let me be the first to say, this is a really easy system. The card will be scanned upon entry just like you did with your paper ticket. Then, the guest service representatives who scanned you in will provide you a seat locator pass to identify your seats to stadium staff (for example, gaining entrance to the Stadium Club).

Once inside, for discounts, you would swipe your Season Ticket card to get your discounts at both the Fire Fan Shops and concession stands, and then enjoy the match! Full details on how to use the card will be included in the Season Ticket package and in videos on Chicago-Fire.com/STH 

C-F.com: Can tickets still be shared and/or exchanged if a Season Ticket Holder isn’t using them for a certain match? How?

ME: Absolutely, by logging on to Account Manager at Chicago-Fire.com/STH, Season Ticket Holders can e-mail any or all of their tickets to friends and family, which can then be printed at home.

Exchanging tickets is also more convenient because exchanged or add-on tickets are automatically loaded on the card. No more waiting in line at will call or waiting for tickets to arrive in the mail.

In my opinion, the best part of all and I’ve mentioned it here already, is the removal of all Account Manager fees. For the first time, Season Ticket Holders can forward, print and exchange tickets through Account Manager at absolutely no additional cost. This availability made making the move to paperless ticketing just that much more sensible. Of course, the Season Ticket Services team continues to be available to assist you with any questions.

C-F.com: How will Season Ticket Holders’ seats be handled for the U.S. Open Cup and international matches?

ME:  It is important to the entire Club to make the U.S. Open Cup a priority for our organization. Our goal is to win as many championships as possible. Our ability to do this is aided by the backing of our supporters at home. We want to create home advantage for the Men In Red when playing at TOYOTA PARK.

Therefore, we are implementing the U.S. Open Cup series ticket this year. Season Ticket Holders can now potentially get up to three matches for the price of one. Our U.S. Open Cup 3rd round, 4th round, and Quarterfinal matches will automatically be included in the series ticket. If we do not play a home U.S. Open Cup match, the series ticket will be transferable for an additional seat to any other MLS regular season match.

For international matches, like Tottenham Hotspur on Saturday, July 26th, even though they’re not included in the package, Season Ticket Holders get an exclusive discount on those tickets. Once purchased, your international game tickets will automatically be loaded onto your Season Ticket Card and Account Manager.

C-F.com: Tell us more about the discounts at concession stands!

ME: Happy to talk about it. All season long, for the first time ever, Season Ticket Holders will receive 20% off on all regular priced items at concession stands, excluding alcohol, when swiping your Card. This change was the direct result of supporter feedback over the past couple of years regarding concessions. Season Ticket Holders told us they liked the concession discounts, but may or may not use them. Our goal for this improvement was to make sure that regardless of your food preference a discount was available.

Plus, the 20% discount on merchandise at the Fire Fan Shops inside Toyota Park are still in full effect.

While we’re talking, what is the Season Ticket Holder gift this year?

ME: This year, Season Ticket Holders will receive a commemorative scarf. This will be an annual gift going forward for all Season Ticket Holders.

If your question isn’t answered here, again, feel free to use the #AskErnst on twitter and write to @RealMikeErnst.