This afternoon, I sent this note via E-mail to my season ticket rep and various higher-ups in the Dodger organization about the club’s planned move to paperless tickets for the 2014 season. Enjoy my ticket-collecting geekiness now!
And, yes, all tickets pictured are mine, including the 1981 ticket with my name written on it by my dad. To see the ticket images at full size, just click on them.
To Stan Kasten and the Los Angeles Dodgers,
I’ve spent the bulk of my life (nearly 43 years) as a huge Dodger fan. In that time, I’ve attended close to 500 games, including 30 of the past 32 home openers and many postseason games. Last year, when I bought a 30-game miniplan for the first time, I was thrilled with the service I received from the club during the season — and even more thrilled with the performance on the field after mid-June.
So when my ticket agent, Jeff Kim, wisely let me know that the minor cost to move up to a full season in 2014 was far outweighed by the benefits it afforded, I was truly excited to fulfill a lifelong goal — becoming a Dodger season ticket holder.
However, another thing you should know about me is that among those games, I also have the ticket to every single game I’ve attended since 1981 — well over 400 tickets. These are cherished memories for me and incredibly important. I have a similar record with many of my other favorite teams, including the Los Angeles Kings (every game ticket since 1979) and USC football (I haven’t missed a home game since 1990 and have the stubs to prove it).
So, as you might imagine, one of the moments I was most looking forward to in becoming a Dodger season ticket holder was the day my ticket books would arrive before the season (for reference, see Jimmy Fallon in the movie “Fever Pitch” on the day his Red Sox tickets arrive — my fiancée says that’s what it looks like when my Trojan football tickets arrive every summer).
When I heard about the new plan for paperless tickets while on a business trip at the end of January, I was unhappy. Now, the more I look at the Dodgers’ unilateral decision to make this move on the backs of their most loyal fans — the miniplan and season ticket holder base — the more irritated I have become. I haven’t been able to write until now due to my business travel schedule, but let me quickly run down some of the issues I have with this — beyond my own personal preferences.
One, the idea that this is somehow a “green” initiative is bogus. Yes, smartphone penetration is around 65 percent in the U.S., but that leaves — at the very least — one third of your fans out in the cold, left to print their own tickets. You’re trying to tell me that if I needed to print out 162 tickets this season on a home printer, that’s somehow greener than you sending me two 10-page books of tickets? Then you extrapolate that to, say, 7,000-10,000 more season ticket holders? That’s laughable.
At the same time, I’m likely to give five (or more) games worth of tickets to my father. He doesn’t own a smartphone or a home printer. So, instead of me being able to hand him (or mail him) the tickets as I simply have done in the past, it’s now on me to make sure they’re printed and that he secures them. How is this making my life (or his) easier? According to the FAQ about this move, it seems that if I decide to print out tickets to give to someone for a game, and they lose them, they could be out of luck? At the same time, if I give printed tickets to someone but at the last minute they can’t go and I decide to go in their place, I may have an issue using my phone to access the tickets? Correct me if I am wrong, but this seems like a pretty crazy hassle just to remove the “ticket printing” line item from the Dodgers’ ever-growing budget.
Once in the stadium, how do the Dodgers plan on dealing with people who aren’t in their correct seats whose cellphones have conveniently “run out of batteries”? Or, to the contrary, what if someone’s phone truly does run out of battery life — and after last season’s battery-sucking, non-connecting WiFi issues, what guarantee is there that this won’t happen?
These are just a few of the possible problems I could see arising. I’m sure you’ve heard of many more in recent weeks.
Honestly, I understand that the world is moving forward, and I have used print-at-home tickets several times in recent years. I’ve also used smartphone tickets at movie theaters and the like. And, I would completely understand a measured move toward mostly paperless ticketing by the Dodgers over a 2-3 year process.
However, dropping this info on your most loyal fans and giving no options to us less than two months before the season’s first pitch is a horrible PR move — and as a magazine editor, I deal with horrible PR people every day.
You could have tested the waters very easily by announcing a pilot program gently urging season ticket holders to go paperless, while still offering the printed option to those of us who prefer it. Heck, you could have done so and told me I’d have to pay an extra $1-2 per game to have printed tickets and I’d take you up on it – kind of like how the organization gently massaged the new parking pricing with last week’s announcement. (I used the system for the Kings-Ducks Stadium Series game in January to pre-pay.) You handled that well and made it easy to swallow. If I don’t pick up my parking beforehand, then I understand it’s on me when I have to drop $15 at the gate. And I don’t feel badly about it.
Nonetheless, I’m sure this is one of many notes the organization has received since its announcement. When it comes to this decision, its announcement and its handling since, I am a very unhappy new season ticket holder. I hope that changes by Opening Day, if not sooner.
Update (6 p.m., 19 February 2014)
Thanks all for your interest in this post. I knew this topic was important to a lot of folks out there, but I appreciate everyone who took time to share on Facebook, retweet or otherwise send the link along.
It’s been a long day in the office, but I did want to share the good (not great) news I received from my season ticket rep this morning. As noted in the original post, he’s done nothing but a great job for me over the past few months, so it was no surprise that he reached back first thing today. He was circumspect and apologetic, but most importantly, he wrote this:
“I don’t know if we have already done this, but since there are many that do not have printers, email or a smart phone, we are allowing regular game day tickets to be printed. I will make sure to put you on the list, and sometime next month, someone from the ticket office/box office will be giving you a call, to confirm printed tickets.”
After a few more emails back and forth, I can report that while he said that the tickets will not be the usual season ticket “special stock,” the Dodgers are in fact compiling a list of fans who require printed tickets. Those tickets will be printed on the regular “gameday stock” — essentially the same paper stock they use when you buy at the ballpark ticket counters or — in my case — last year with my 30-game miniplan.
So, while it’s not the 100-percent solution of usual season tickets, there has clearly been some effect on the organization due to pressure from the fan base on the topic. At the same time, I also confirmed that for all other purposes — StubHub resale, transferring tickets to technologically-capable and less-excited-about-collecting friends, etc. — fans with printed tickets also will be able to utilize fully the new technologies that come with the MyDodgersTickets website.
Again, thanks for reading here. If I get anymore updates, I’ll be sure to share them ASAP!