Starting next October, SeatGeek will handle ticketing for all Jazz home games, plus other concerts and shows at Vivint Arena. In addition to managing the tickets’ underlying technology, SeatGeek will also operate a marketplace where Jazz fans can buy, sell and transfer tickets; a gameday app that includes concessions and transportation options; and possibly new experiences associated with in-venue attendance.
It’s the latest in a string of deals that SeatGeek has announced this year, alongside a dramatic shift in the company’s future. In June, its $1.35 billion deal to go public via SPAC acquisition was called off hours before the shareholders vote. Two months later, it closed a $238 million funding round that valued the company at $1 billion.
Now, the company is focusing on expanding the technology gap that is driving its growth, according to CEO Jack Groetzinger. That means building a platform that sells tickets, yes, but one that also assists its partners in other aspects of hosting live events.
“There are a lot of interesting things that the industry can do with the in-venue experience, taking advantage of the fact that people are no longer getting in with pieces of paper, they’re getting in with computers,” SeatGeek CEO Jack Groetzinger said on Thursday’s Sporticast podcast episode. “And there’s a whole explosion of possibilities that that opens.”
Jazz owner Ryan Smith was one of the new investors who joined SeatGeek earlier this year, as was Arctos Sports Partners. (Arctos also bought into the Jazz earlier this year.) The team has been with industry incumbent Ticketmaster since 2017, but that deal expires prior to next season; SeatGeek emerged as the winner in an RFP process that dates back to last spring. Financial specifics weren’t released.
When Smith purchased the NBA club in 2020, he pushed its leadership to prioritize the fan experience coming out of the pandemic shutdown, according to chief commercial officer Chris Barney. The team was among the first to welcome spectators back to the arena and is currently making plans to host the 2023 All-Star Game in Salt Lake City. Vivent Arena has also been cashless since 2020, which Barney said is an advantage when adding a tech-focused partner like SeatGeek.
“Most of our fans have already migrated digitally,” Barney said in an interview. “So we really felt like we were in a great position to take on the tech that they’ve built. They really are a technology company that happens to sell tickets, and I love that about them, because they’re constantly innovating.”
SeatGeek was founded in 2009 as a mobile-first ticketing platform. Its business originally centered around secondary sales, but the company became an early advocate for open ticketing networks—where fans can purchase verified tickets across many different websites and platforms—and it is now pushing its tech advantage to assist teams with ticketing and broader fan experiences.
SeatGeek also partners with the Cleveland Cavaliers, Brooklyn Nets and New Orleans Pelicans. In other major U.S. sports, it works with the Baltimore Ravens, Dallas Cowboys, Florida Panthers, New Orleans Saints, Washington Commanders and a handful of MLS teams. Additionally, about half of the Premier League, including Manchester United and Liverpool, call SeatGeek a partner.