Clay County school district offers digital tickets ahead of first football game

CLAY COUNTY, Fla. — High school football has finally returned just in time for the fall. Yet this season will look a little different, with new seating capacities in place, social distancing, and face mask requirements.

Another change…ticket sales.

Action News Jax’s Alicia Tarancon looked at how the Clay County school district will sell tickets and the challenge it faces generating sales.

Orange Park High School is gearing up for its first football game of the season.

Our Action News Jax Sky Vision Drone flew over the Orange Park football field on Friday.

Normally the stadium can pack in up to 3,000 fans, but because sporting events will only be seated at 30% capacity, the school will only be able to sell about 800 tickets.

“Money is something that people are very concerned about. One thing that I would say is that the high school football experience does pretty much fund the athletic departments at most high schools,” John Sgromolo, the coordinator of district athletics for Clay County Schools said.

Instead of coming to the ticket booth this year, fans in Clay County will purchase digital tickets in advance that they’ll be able to show on their cellphone.

Orange Park, for example, is using the app Ticket Spicket.

The district says it’s a great way to limit contact with people and you don’t have to wait in a long line right at the gate.

Sgromolo told Tarancon ticket sales are very important.

When the pandemic hit in the spring, none of the district’s athletic departments collected any money from their spring sports, because sports like softball, baseball and track were canceled.

Still the district had to continue paying for things field upkeep and maintenance.

Normally the football budget helps pay for that and fund other sports that don’t necessarily require a ticket.

“Those would be swimming, golf, cross-country, sometimes does not have gate fees, tennis. So a lot of times those funds from football are used to offset the cost of those other non-revenue producing sports,” Sgromolo said.

In order to cover the cost of lost revenue from ticket sales, the Clay County School District is asking for support from the community.

“We know that some of our businesses in the community have really been impacted by COVID but at the same time if you’re a business that has an opportunity to help, we’d love to work with you,” Sgromolo said.

Orange Park High School will have its first football game of the season next Friday, on Sept. 11.

It will host Baker County at 7 p.m.