Returning Students who are not apart of residence life and had not been to a game since the school year started were met with a surprise when they arrived at the Tsongas Center for the first hockey game of the school year on Friday, Oct. 4. A new student entrance and a brand-new mobile check-in system.
The new entrance is located on the west side of the Tsongas Center next to the footbridge that leads the River Hawk village and Perkins street. It includes the new reward prize shop which will be open from 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. every weekday and during game day. The new app called UML Rewards, available on both Apple and Android operating systems, introduces university athletics new rewards system.
Jonathan Boswell, the associate athletics director for marking and promotions, said there were a few factors that played into creating a new student entrance. Boswell’s team felt terrible for students forced to wait in the long line out the door during bad weather, and polling at the end of last year’s seasons has shown most students are coming from East Campus.
“This set up allows students to have their own space,” said Boswell. The space located on the side of the Tsongas Center provides the students with their own stairs to enter the arena, direct access to the River Hawk Shop and helps keep student exclusives like last games rally towels and the Student Tailgate exclusive to students.
Boswell said the space still has a few more changes, like a mural on the left wall as students enter. He and his team are hoping to work with a local artist and a student to create a “social media moment” where students can enter and take photos with one another before the game.
ADA entrance will still be in the front of the Tsongas Center where students used to enter, but the students can always grab their rewards and premium items at the new student entrance.
The other significant change that will affect all games at the school is the new mobile app-based check-in system. UML Rewards app’s primary functions are to check students into games and athletics events and keep track of their reward points. However, it also has live scores for home games, team rosters and a complete updated list of athletic events.
In the past, few students knew about the rewards system, and the ones that did know did not have a way to track their points or know where to redeem them.
“We want people to know that there is a reward system and that you do get points for coming to the game. If you get 10 points, you get a shirt,” said Boswell on why it was so important that they update the reward system. “We want to work towards people redeeming their points this year.”
Boswell says the athletic department also is excited by the possibilities for premium items that are opened with the app.
“It is built to kind of A. [sic] reward people who are coming to games anyways, and B. [sic] reward people who are involved and staying for the game,” he said.
In the past, he explained they would hear from fans who showed up for games often but did not receive the item that they would see people leave with before the game even started. Now, Boswell said, for big-ticket items, they might make students check in the middle of the game as well.
The app has been set up to send out notifications about game changes, prize giveaways, and when a student has reached a certain number of points.
“It gives us the ability to connect,” said Boswell. “The benefit is obviously direct contact.” Students can turn of the notifications in their settings, and the notifications will pop up only when they open the app.
“When we looked at enhancing or increasing that system versus a mobile app, the mobile app was the cheaper version, and it was a more involved option,” said Boswell. “When you can win both price and user-friendliness it makes sense to go with the mobile app.”
Boswell said students are encouraged to still have their IDs on them to secure their free admission as the app does not confirm they are students. The app is open to fans and alumni who want to follow the games, but the reward system built-in is just for students.
Students who do not want to download the app or do not care about the reward system can still swipe their ID like in the past, but they will not build up points, said Boswell.