On Jan. 24, Sophia Storan, a freshman who attends Lyons Township High School, became the first, and so far only, person to pay for her admission to a sporting event at Riverside-Brookfield High School by using a credit or debit card.

RBHS has just launched a pilot program to test accepting credit and debit card payment for admission to sporting events. The first time the payment option was available was at a girls basketball game on Jan. 21, but no one opted to pay by credit card that night.

At Friday’s home basketball game versus Bishop McNamara, a 72-43 RBHS win, two people tried to pay with cards. The card reader rejected the first payment attempt, but during the second quarter of the game Storan showed up with her cousin, who attends RBHS and a few of her cousin’s friends. 

Storan, who came with no cash on her, paid with a debit card. 

“I didn’t have any money,” Storan said.

But, Storan was accustomed to using her card to pay for admission to basketball games, because LTHS has been accepting credit and debit card payment for admission to sporting events for about three years.

But not many people pay that way, said LTHS Athletic Director John Grundke.

“It’s very low,” Grundke said. “It’s usually two or three people a night except for when we have huge games, like if we have our blackout or if Hinsdale Central is coming over. A lot of people will do it in advance, just so they have their tickets.”

At LTHS, people can buy their tickets online in advance and just show their bar code, on a paper print out or on their smartphone, to get into games. LTHS uses an iPad and a credit card reader to process payments. At RBHS, ticket taker Donna Siffermann, the athletic department secretary, used a small credit card reader to process the credit card transaction.

While LTHS tacks on the credit card fees to the price of a ticket, for now RBHS is planning to absorb the 2.8 percent transaction fee that PayPal charges the school for processing the credit card transaction.

“Unfortunately, it’s kind of the cost of doing business,” said Wes Smithing, the president of the RBHS District 208 Board of Education. 

RBHS has opened a PayPal account to process the credit and debit payments at sporting events.

District 208 Superintendent Kevin Skinkis said the cost of the fees will probably be offset by not letting in for free people who say they don’t have any cash on them, which had been done in the past.

Accepting payment by credit or debit card just makes sense in today’s world, Skinkis said.

“More and more people are not carrying cash,” Skinkis said.

RBHS officials will probably accept credit and debit cards payment for admission to home sporting events for the rest of the year and then assess whether they want to continue to offer the option next year.