Alabama Athletics unveils Tide Loyalty Points program

James Benedetto, Assistant Sports Editor

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This Saturday’s home football game against New Mexico State will be the first opportunity for students to participate in Tide Loyalty Points, a new program that offers an opportunity to earn incentives for future football privileges.

The program has been two years in the making as athletic director Greg Byrne and other staffers have seen a change in the students’ methods of entertainment. 

“I think the reality of any organization in the enterprise is that you have to continue to evolve, and how fans are consuming athletics is changing,” Byrne said. “One of the worst mistakes we can do is say, ‘We are Alabama, we’ll be just fine.’ We are Alabama. At the same time, too, we cannot take that for granted.”

In conjunction with the Student Government Association, the University created a point-based system that awards points based on credit hours earned at UA, football game attendance and other factors.

Graphic courtesy of www.rolltide.com

Last football season was littered with empty seats, students leaving games early and a depleted fan experience, which was capped off with a sparsely filled upper bowl in a blowout game between Alabama and Louisiana-Lafayette. 

Byrne remarked that the lack of fans at that game “highlighted the need” for the creation of some type of incentive-based program. 

“[The students] make a difference,” Byrne said. “Part of what I want to encourage students is each and everyone of them makes a difference by being there. They also don’t make a difference when they are not there.”

Under this point distribution, a typical junior with around 60 credit hours will have 6,000 points when the points are awarded later this week. 

A junior who begins with 6,000 points, attends every home game, stays until the fourth quarter and joins Crimson Chaos will have 8,700 points. That will be enough to catch only some seniors, most of whom will have around 9,000 points entering the season and will have earned points of their own.

The system will not overhaul the current ticket timeline that students use now. Students who donate their tickets earlier in the week will receive more points than those who wait until the day of the game. The previous system that penalized students for missing games or for donating their tickets too late will not be used anymore. 

In addition to increasing their chances of receiving a full regular-season ticket package, students who have a higher point total will also gain priority when buying tickets for postseason play. The split for postseason tickets will remain 86% to undergraduates and 14% to graduates. 

“The trajectory of the program is focused more on the long-term reward of the program rather than the immediate,” an Alabama spokesperson said via email. “Those that accrue points over time will continue to have greater opportunities than those that don’t within their class and potentially over classes above them.  We’ll continue to evaluate the program as we continue to enhance the program.”

Any changes for obtaining regular-season tickets will not go into effect until next fall. 

As of the 2019-2020 school year, football is the only sport that awards points for attendance. Byrne teased an eventual expansion to other sports in a tweet that read “walk before you run,” but said no plans have been put in place yet.

Prior to the 2019 season, Bryant-Denny Stadium was fitted with 60 beacons that now read students locations and create timestamps within the Tide Loyalty app to recognize when a student enters and leaves the stadium. If students are uncomfortable with the University tracking their locations, there is a setting within the app where the app’s access can be restricted. 

When this option is selected, students will need to open the app while inside the stadium to earn their points for attending the game, and again after the start of the fourth quarter to earn points for staying until the fourth quarter.

If students encounter any issues within the app, they can manually enter their points at one of the four kiosks stationed throughout the student section. Points will be awarded to students who join Crimson Chaos this year but will not be awarded retroactively to current members. 

“We appreciate them. They’re important. That’s why we want them there. Athletic events bring people together,” Byrne said. “We all come together for the Alabama Crimson Tide.”