Over the last few years, the Cubs have been at the forefront of cool and interesting season-ticket designs like the ones shown above from 2014, and they intend to keep up that theme in 2015.
The Sox will require season ticket holders to print tickets off a computer or use smartphones for scanning. (They can pay an additional $20 for hard tickets to be mailed). Three other MLB teams also have dropped hard tickets.
It's certainly easier and less expensive for sports teams to go this way. Printing and shipping costs are going up, and with more people carrying smartphones they can easily bring their tickets to events that way.
But there's more to a ticket than just entry to a game, as the Tribune article points out:
Brian Schwartz, co-owner of Schwartz Sports Memorabilia in Morton Grove, said a hard game ticket provides an unexpected collector's item.
"Besides opening day or a playoff game, you never know when history is going to be made," he said. "Wrigley Field was empty when Kerry Wood struck out 20 guys."
"Tickets are not manufactured collectibles. Baseball cards, football cards — those are manufactured collectibles," said Joe Orlando, president of Professional Sports Authenticator. "They're like tiny time capsules and you can relive those moments again."
This is the way I feel about my own tickets. I've saved pretty much every ticket to every sports event I've ever attended, and although most of them don't represent historic events, they're my own personal history and it wouldn't be the same with a ticket app on my phone, or even computer-printed tickets. I don't particularly care for printout tickets and will use them only if I have to, and I'm not interested in using my phone for game entry.
Last year, the Cubs started a pilot program for season-ticket holders in the bleachers where they could transfer their season tickets to their phones and enter that way. I didn't do it, but I heard from some season-ticket holders who did that the system was often down. The article says that the Cubs are going continue to offer the system as a choice, but not a requirement.
That's the way I'd like to see it stay. Some people might like the convenience of having their tickets on their phone and never having to worry about forgetting a ticket to a game. (Of course, that means they can't lose or forget their phone, either!) I prefer the hard ticket, both as a commemorative with an interesting design and as a permanent record of something that could be historic. There's also this, which might make you think twice about going ticket-paperless:
"It allows them to see what people are buying," said Irving Rein, who teaches at the Northwestern University School of Communication and recently co-wrote "The Sports Strategist: Developing Leaders for a High-Performance Industry." "They're trying to have a better customer experience and it gives them access to material and information they never had before." Rein, the Northwestern professor, said some fans may fear how much information is gleaned. "It used to be that you got tickets and were anonymous," he said. "Now if you go to a game, the team knows if you went and when you got there. "They'll manage you from the time you leave your house until the time you get home."
I'm not sure I want or need to give up that much information when I go to a Cubs game, or any other sporting event. I hope the Cubs, at least, maintain the hard season ticket as an option for season-ticket holders.