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Thursday, September 12, 2019

The Death of Paper Tickets and the Stories They Leave Behind

John Burns held season tickets to Xavier basketball games for more than 40 years, in three different Cincinnati arenas, his seats maturing along with him—from raucous baseline in youth, to second level near the beer stand in middle age, to wheelchair-accessible seats when his aging friends required them. They were like The Giving Tree, those tickets, which Burns shared with seven pals. “Eventually, Dad needed the disabled seats himself,” says his daughter, Mary Ann. “I can still see him sitting at the dining room table, dividing the tickets into envelopes. Dad was always The Guy in Charge of the Tickets.”

John Burns died at 78 on April 1, 2010, his spirit ascending skyward in the manner of his seat location. In his casket his family placed objects he esteemed: a thoroughbred racing form, a pencil to pick the winners and a can of Cincy’s own Hudepohl beer. “But the thing he loved most in life was Xavier basketball,” says Mary Ann. And so Burns wore his season tickets into eternity, tucked into his funeral blazer like a pocket square. They were fanned out for St. Peter, expediting him through heaven’s gate, a reminder that the cheap seats high up in English theaters and soccer stadiums are called “the gods.”

Like the golden ticket in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory or the letters of transit in Casablanca, tickets almost always provide passage to a better place. They are redeemable, like our souls; and like our souls they may be sold on the secondary market. As with the afterlife, tickets promise a better future. They don’t always deliver on that promise, but tickets—be they baseball or raffle or lottery—provide hope before the reckoning.

“I grew up outside L.A., was a huge Dodgers fan as a kid, and to get tickets you had to go to a little department store called Holbrook’s that sold gym clothes and Boy Scout stuff and had a ticket service to Dodger Stadium,” says Russ Havens, who at 54 is old enough to remember a time—the mid ‘70s, in his case—when there were still department stores with their own box offices that sold tickets made of thin cardboard to Boy Scouts. “I’d buy tickets weeks in advance, pin them up in my bedroom, and those tickets would remind me every day: Hey, you’re gonna see the Dodgers. I held onto those stubs.” And those stubs held on to him.

Not purely on baseball, I admit (though baseball clearly appears here)- but an interesting article to ponder, especially to those of us who handled physical tickets just last night and the night before.

 

QLE Posted: September 12, 2019 at 11:59 PM | 24 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: going digital, physical objects, tickets

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   1. vortex of dissipation Posted: September 13, 2019 at 04:01 AM (#5878846)
The NFL last season did away entirely with hard tickets, going "fully digital," a technological milestone—like Dylan going electric—that has its drawbacks and consolations. In the NBA, you can still walk up to, say, the Miami Heat box office and buy a ticket, but it will be sent to your iPhone, not slid through a window. And baseball: "You can go to the box office and get a commemorative ticket [at most stadiums], but far fewer people do that than you'd think," says Noah Garden, who oversees MLB's ticketing. The number of fans who still use hard tickets, he says, is "very, very low. Really low."


This scares me. I went to the Mariners' game tonight, and used a paper ticket, like I always have. But the fact is that I don't have a smartphone, and I'm sure I never will. Does this mean that I simply won't be able to go to a game in the future, even if I want to buy a ticket, because there won't be anywhere they can send it to?
   2. David Nieporent (now, with children) Posted: September 13, 2019 at 04:14 AM (#5878847)
But the fact is that I don't have a smartphone, and I'm sure I never will. Does this mean that I simply won't be able to go to a game in the future, even if I want to buy a ticket, because there won't be anywhere they can send it to?
Well, since you'll obviously be put into a home shortly, it doesn't really matter, does it?
   3. Fridas Boss Posted: September 13, 2019 at 08:05 AM (#5878857)
The NFL last season did away entirely with hard tickets, going "fully digital," a technological milestone—like Dylan going electric—that has its drawbacks and consolations.

This isn't true. Yes, they've added digital but they mail paper tickets to season ticket holders too. I have the proof.
   4. Ithaca2323 Posted: September 13, 2019 at 08:53 AM (#5878861)
When I got married, I gave my dad a gift, which was the baseball-reference box score of the first baseball game he ever took me too.

A poor substitute for ticket stubs, perhaps. But he liked it a lot
   5. . Posted: September 13, 2019 at 08:58 AM (#5878863)
The teams want it to be digital so they can build their mailing lists and know who's using the tickets.
   6. Der-K: at 10% emotional investment Posted: September 13, 2019 at 09:16 AM (#5878870)
1 - That wouldn't preclude printing them from a computer, no?
   7. jmurph Posted: September 13, 2019 at 09:21 AM (#5878873)
I rarely go to baseball games anymore: do scalpers no longer exist? Like in-person, hanging outside the stadium entrances?
   8. Nasty Nate Posted: September 13, 2019 at 09:57 AM (#5878877)
1 - That wouldn't preclude printing them from a computer, no?
It depends. I believe there are some digital tickets that can't be printed out (i.e. even if you printed a screenshot, it wouldn't scan).
   9. Jose is an Absurd Time Cube Posted: September 13, 2019 at 09:59 AM (#5878878)
My father is like Vortex, he doesn’t have a smartphone. He just prints the ticket out. I like the electronic tickets, they are easy to use, convenient if you have to share them with a friend and you don’t have to worry about losing them. I do miss the hard copy souvenir though.

There are scalpers but not as much as used to be. I used to see the same guys outside Fenway and there are far fewer of them. I think most of the scalpers are now doing their work on StubHub and the like.
   10. Nasty Nate Posted: September 13, 2019 at 10:03 AM (#5878879)
The NFL last season did away entirely with hard tickets, going "fully digital," a technological milestone—like Dylan going electric—that has its drawbacks and consolations.

This isn't true. Yes, they've added digital but they mail paper tickets to season ticket holders too. I have the proof.
Yes, I've noticed that the situation is often proclaimed to be digital only, when it's not really only. Every year, there are some bad NBA and NFL teams who can't fill their venues. I'm really dubious that if someone shows up without a smartphone they wouldn't find a way to take their money.
   11. Nasty Nate Posted: September 13, 2019 at 10:09 AM (#5878883)
Another issue is that sometimes the digital tickets are only functional using some proprietary smartphone app. I think there will be a backlash because people won't want to have to download a dozen apps to cover all the leagues and ticket services.

I also predict that in the future there will be some high-profile mass malfunction at the turnstiles. I know it's happened before on some scale, but I predict there will be some notable event where some part of the system breaks down right before an event and a shitshow ensues.

My father is like Vortex, he doesn’t have a smartphone. He just prints the ticket out. I like the electronic tickets, they are easy to use, convenient if you have to share them with a friend and you don’t have to worry about losing them. I do miss the hard copy souvenir though.
For the Red Sox, season-ticket holders and single-game buyers can still opt for the regular old fashioned ticket.
   12. PreservedFish Posted: September 13, 2019 at 10:45 AM (#5878899)
I also predict that in the future there will be some high-profile mass malfunction at the turnstiles. I know it's happened before on some scale, but I predict there will be some notable event where some part of the system breaks down right before an event and a shitshow ensues.


Just wait for the solar event that knocks out the internet for 24 hours! I hope to see it in my lifetime, presuming of course that I do not die as a result of it.
   13. . Posted: September 13, 2019 at 12:26 PM (#5878928)
The NY Rangers charge $50 for paper tickets; I told the rep I wanted them and he steered me away and I listened/didn't have the inclination to quibble. This discussion has prompted me to call them back and tell them I want them.
   14. The Yankee Clapper Posted: September 13, 2019 at 12:36 PM (#5878932)
I always liked the security of having a “real ticket”, but since I’ve been sharing a Nationals 20-game plan with my now adult sons, the e-tickets on the Ballpark app have been far more convenient. Lots of last minute decisions can be accommodated without having to get together. I’m always a bit surprised it works, but so far, so good.
   15. Ziggy is done with Dominican discotheques Posted: September 13, 2019 at 12:36 PM (#5878933)
I do miss the hard copy souvenir though.


That's me. I find myself using the print-at-home style tickets, but nobody wants to keep a crumpled up sheet of A4 in their memento box.

Edit: and today I find out that letter paper isn't the same thing as A4. Who knew?
   16. BobT Posted: September 13, 2019 at 01:31 PM (#5878945)

That's me. I find myself using the print-at-home style tickets, but nobody wants to keep a crumpled up sheet of A4 in their memento box.

Edit: and today I find out that letter paper isn't the same thing as A4. Who knew?


You've never had to go tell your staff at work not to set the printer at A4 because the machines are very literal and they are about those fractions of inches.
   17. Greg Pope Posted: September 13, 2019 at 02:39 PM (#5878973)
I believe there are some digital tickets that can't be printed out (i.e. even if you printed a screenshot, it wouldn't scan).

I'm not sure how this would be possible. A bar code is a bar code.

I find myself using the print-at-home style tickets, but nobody wants to keep a crumpled up sheet of A4 in their memento box.

Me too. I have the ticket for the first game I've attended at almost all MLB stadiums. But the ones on paper just don't feel the same.
   18. Barry`s_Lazy_Boy Posted: September 13, 2019 at 02:51 PM (#5878980)
I believe there are some digital tickets that can't be printed out (i.e. even if you printed a screenshot, it wouldn't scan).

What Nate might be getting at is that some digital tickets refresh the QR code every 60 seconds or so. So you couldn't print it at home and take it to the ballpark and scan it at the door.

---

Electronic tickets have some great upsides. But it is a little sad to lose the stubs.
   19. Nasty Nate Posted: September 13, 2019 at 03:11 PM (#5878981)
I believe there are some digital tickets that can't be printed out (i.e. even if you printed a screenshot, it wouldn't scan).

I'm not sure how this would be possible. A bar code is a bar code.
I don't know exactly. It might be what BLB describes in #18.

I bought tickets on StubHub this spring, but unlike in the past they didn't give me a PDF to download. And the instructions said that it must be scanned from a smartphone, not a printout. In fact, I tried but couldn't even access the scannable thing from my desktop. Meanwhile, my phone at the time was old and therefore was not compatible with the StubHub app or the MLB Ballpark app so I couldn't pull up the ticket as intended. However, I was able to access my ticket using the internet on my phone and visiting my account at the StubHub website - the very thing that wouldn't work from a desktop. Before the game, I went to the will call window and asked if they could print something out for me because I was dubious about it scanning from a website (not the app) through my small old dirty screen. The guy there said that he would have been able to, but couldn't because I had pulled up the ticket, which counted as being "printed." He was a little unsure so I don't know if he was right about either scenario. Anyway, after about 5 attempts, the turnstile usher was able to successfully scan it and in I went.
   20. Tulo's Fishy Mullet (mrams) Posted: September 13, 2019 at 03:18 PM (#5878983)
I have kept every ticket from any concert/sporting event since about age 12, and have finally found a suitable binder for storage and preservation. They do provide great memories/stories to share. I'm missing just one of the 118 college football games, and I know I'm missing some of the Brewers games.

Best Looking Tickets: Kentucky Derby, Florida v Georgia football game, some (not all) of the Indy 500s. I like the normal sized NLCS tickets from 2011.
Worst: B1G Ten Championship game (way too big, most of them), any printed e-ticket, Most mid-late 80s baseball stubs I have were really stubs.

even though most of them were not attractive, at least the typical tickets of the past were appropriately sized, these giant ones these days are really annoying. The budget for ticket printing is not insignificant.
   21. Greg Pope Posted: September 13, 2019 at 03:29 PM (#5878986)
What Nate might be getting at is that some digital tickets refresh the QR code every 60 seconds or so. So you couldn't print it at home and take it to the ballpark and scan it at the door.

Ah. I've never heard of that, but it would certainly work.

I bought tickets on StubHub this spring, but unlike in the past they didn't give me a PDF to download ... after about 5 attempts, the turnstile usher was able to successfully scan it and in I went.

Clearly they're doing something new then. Thanks, I haven't experienced this. I wonder how they're coordinating it between the various entities.
   22. Nasty Nate Posted: September 13, 2019 at 03:44 PM (#5878992)
I wonder how they're coordinating it between the various entities.
There is some official partnership between StubHub and the Red Sox. So I think, in theory, you can get the Sox box office to print you out a ticket if you don't have a smartphone - even if you bought the ticket on StubHub. I don't know if it's different, team by team.
   23. Brian C Posted: September 13, 2019 at 07:14 PM (#5879047)
I have paper tickets from every baseball game I've gone to (MLB and MiLB, plus KBO game) since 2008. I haven't run into a venue where I can't get them yet. Even at Target Field, when my cousin had all our tickets on his phone, they printed up paper tickets for us when they scanned his phone, on nice Twins ticket stock and everything. At Wrigley I buy tickets for every game I go to at the box office.

But I only do that for baseball. For all other events - sports, concerts, movies, flights - I honestly kind of love mobile ticketing.
   24. Pirate Joe Posted: September 13, 2019 at 09:10 PM (#5879059)
I went to a concert a month or so ago that was all digital ticketing, no scans or print out permitted, only the ticket code on your phone. And then when I walked through the gate and the guy scanned my phone, his scanner had a mini-printer attachment and he printed me out a small version of the ticket, I guess so I wouldn't have to walk down any aisles looking at my phone and potentially falling down the steps.

But what I'll never understand is why if they were going to print me a "ticket" at the gate that they didn't just allow me to print a ticket ahead of time. Or even better, send me a real ticket ahead of time.

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