Four companies have worked together to install a smart card system at Kiel Center, the home of the St. Louis Blues hockey team.
Precis Smart Card Systems Inc., Gemplus Group, Verifone Inc., and Tangent Associates, a provider of point of sale systems, put the deal together without a bank's direct involvement.
This is the second time that Precis has installed its patented stored- value system in a major sports venue. The Oklahoma City-based company started a similar program in June in Comiskey Park, home of the Chicago White Sox.
In the United States, smart cards have been used most on college campuses and in hospitals, company cafeterias, and other limited settings where card promoters could monitor their effectiveness within self- contained areas and groups.
Tracey Barnes, senior product marketing manager for Precis, said sports arenas are also good testing grounds because they draw loyal customers who visit often.
Ms. Barnes said monitoring the purchasing behavior of sports fans, who are not forced to use the card, is a great way to determine if other consumers will buy the cards.
"One of our goals is to have a smart card application in each of the different sports categories-including football and basketball," she said.
At Kiel Center, Precis is selling $30 cards that fans can use at concession stands. To promote the technology, the cards are being sold for $25 each until the end of hockey season. Precis said it hopes to sell as many as 20,000 cards this season.
The company is also hoping people will try to collect the cards. In an added marketing hook, the cards feature four designs, which, when placed together, form an image of the ice rink and the Blue's new logo.
"A lot of people are interested in sports, so the cards will have a value immediately," said Lin Overholt, editor and publisher of Madeira Beach, Fla.-based Card Trader, a newsletter on collectible cards.
But he said that if fans don't want to use the cards, it won't matter how nice they look.
"The utilitarian use is more important," Mr. Overholt said. "If people want to collect cards, they have other options-such as going into a sports shop to purchase cardboard ones."