By Jordan Bellar
SportTechie

In Silicon Valley, technology is king. The greater San Francisco Bay Area is home to many of the world’s biggest and most innovative companies. Given their prime location, the San Francisco 49ers have inevitably become leaders in early adoption of new tech. Gone are the days of the paper ticket stub, because next season, the 49ers will exclusively use mobile ticketing for their games.

Levi's Stadium, the new home of the 49ers, opened for the 2014 season touted as the most technologically advanced stadium in the world. The state-of-the-art stadium mobile app enhances a fan’s game-day experience with features, including mobile ticketing, parking passes, food and beverage ordering, in-stadium navigation assistance, and a “game-center” for high-definition video replays.

The decision to move to get rid of paper ticketing stems from this year’s heavy adoption of the mobile ticketing feature in the new Levi’s Stadium app. Nearly 30,000 fans were expected to take advantage of this option for the matchup against the St. Louis Rams on Nov. 2.

Season-ticket holders have been especially accepting, with 60 percent choosing to link their tickets to the mobile app and 70 percent linking to the parking feature. Fans who use the mobile ticketing feature are eligible to win prizes, including a $50,000 Toyota Tundra, 65-inch Sony television, and trip for two to this year’s Pro Bowl, among others. These promotions really help to drive the app adoption rate.

In an interview with Sports Business Daily, 49ers’ Chief Operating Officer, Al Guido, said: "Our goal when we launched this system was to drive adoption and the numbers have been mind-boggling. To already have almost half the season bowl locked into mobile is fantastic. We want to rip the band-aid in year two, and that’s what we're doing."

Though 14 NFL teams began offering the paperless ticketing option this season, the 49ers are expected to be the first and only team to only offer the mobile option in 2015. But some fans are wary of this move.

Paper ticket stubs have long been valuable memorabilia for fans to remember their experience without actually making a purchase from the team store. Not only will teams likely drive in-stadium purchases and reduce ticket printing expenses, they will also be able to collect more data from fans than ever before. Even if a ticket holder sells their ticket, the mobile feature allows teams to better understand who is in the stadium and more effectively market to the individual based on their information and purchases.

The 49ers are setting a precedent likely to be followed by most NFL teams in the next couple years.

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