SU Athletics

Syracuse Athletics-Lyft partnership, set to unveil Friday, ‘fruit for both parties’

Jessica Sheldon | Staff Photographer

Syracuse Athletics has partnered with Lyft to provide discounted rides to Syracuse fans after games.

From their seats, fans can drink a few beers then arrange for discounted rides with a few taps on their phone. That’s what a new partnership between Syracuse Athletics and the ride-hailing service Lyft will provide SU fans, starting Friday night in the season opener at the Carrier Dome.

SU announced earlier this week that Lyft, the fastest-growing ride-hailing service in the U.S., is the official ride service of SU Athletics, as well as the sponsor of Otto’s Army and the student section. Lyft will have digital signage at the Carrier Dome beginning Friday.

Students who sign up for Lyft will receive discounted rates for rides. There will be select giveaways at games, too, SU Athletics said. A promotional code, (GOCUSE), provides up to $5 off for a new user’s first four rides. Terms of the contract were not disclosed.

“This partnership will connect Syracuse fans with Lyft’s safe, reliable, and affordable transportation and increase the opportunity for drivers in the Syracuse area to earn additional income,” Jaime Raczka, regional Director of new Markets at Lyft, said in a statement.

`The Carrier Dome, one of the only college venues to offer alcohol, has sold beer at SU football and basketball games since it opened in 1980. The partnership with Lyft allows fans an alternative way to travel after the game. NFL Players Inc. and several NBA and MLB teams have teamed-up with ride-hailing services. Lyft was once the official ride of Major League Baseball.

Syracuse Athletics, which works with IMG Sports Marketing on such deals, considered the Lyft agreement several months ago, said Anthony Di Fino, SU’s associate athletics director of business development. Ride-sharing services became legal in New York state on June 29.

Throughout much of 2017, Uber, the world’s most valuable privately held company, has faced sexual harassment allegations and a lawsuit from Google. For those reasons, New York state could be the turning point for Lyft’s battle with Uber.

Di Fino declined to comment on whether Uber’s discrimination probe factored into the decision.

“We just felt more comfortable with Lyft overall,” he said.

Alex McKelvie, chair of the department of entrepreneurship and emerging enterprises in the Martin J. Whitman School of Management, said the benefits are numerous. For Lyft, it’s an effective way to establish itself and gain a foothold in the Syracuse market. For SU Athletics, it “makes a lot of sense,” because it provides fans a recognizable brand with which to associate themselves, and another way to go to home after the final buzzer sounds.

“Being sponsored by a legitimized thing, the second-largest employer in the city and the one of the biggest college programs is a big step for Lyft,” McKelvie said. “It builds momentum, is good publicity and drives traffic. And fans can just take out their phone and hit the app. It’s fruit for both parties.”

Meanwhile, the SU Student Association is partnering with Uber over Labor Day weekend to offer students $10,000 in free Uber rides. SA President James Franco and SA Vice President Angie Pati said in an email this week that the first 1,000 students to use a code, released Friday at 5 p.m. via email, will get $10 off an Uber ride.

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