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My ticket booklet from the 2009 inaugural season of the Seattle Sounders FC.

Call me old school, but I still like to head to a sporting event with a paper ticket securely tucked in my billfold. But are the glory days of the ticket stub numbered?

After getting an email from my beloved Seattle Sounders FC this week it’s probably just a matter of time before paper tickets follow Kasey Keller into retirement. The subject line of the email said it all:  Choose Your 2012 Tickets – Exciting New Ticket Technology.

Here’s what the Sounders are offering to season ticket holders. Instead of receiving a paper ticket for each home game this year, fans will be able to choose a Season Ticket Membership Card. The card, about the size of a credit card and containing a bar code, provides access to all 18 home matches when scanned at the gate.

“No need for paper or worrying that you’re grabbing the wrong ticket, it’s all on the card,” the team wrote in its email.

The message continues:

“As this (rave) green technology advances, you will soon be able to purchase your favorite jersey at the Pro Shop, pay for concessions throughout CenturyLink Field and take advantage of exclusive card member-only offers and rewards at a variety of outlets. All with one card!”

Fans who are unable to attend games can forward tickets to friends without handing over the card, with recipients printing off tickets for the individual match. Card users also can post tickets for sale on the team’s Ticket Exchange.

Sounds great, huh? Well, for a  soccer nerd like me who has old ticket stubs stuck in a file, I am not so sure. There’s something about having a physical reminder of special events, and a membership card (despite the rewards and convenience) doesn’t quite preserve those memories in the same way.

There’s also the pure joy of interacting with scalpers outside of FX McRory’s when you’ve got an extra ticket to sell. As my fellow season ticket holders know all too well, I take a certain amount of pleasure in negotiating on the street with real people in a dynamic marketplace rather than through some faceless online channel.

Just to be clear, the Sounders are not mandating the use of the membership card. Season ticket holders have until January 26th to make a decision whether they’d like the card or the old-school tickets.

So, what’s a Sounders fan to do?

On one hand, I am intrigued by the card concept. I like the environmental friendliness of it and the rewards. And I recognize that it’s just a matter of time before this technology takes over and, eventually, moves beyond a physical card altogether to where fans can access tickets on their smartphones.

On the other hand, I am not quite ready to abandon physical tickets. I love the photography on the tickets and having that reminder of being in a certain place at a certain time in my life.

“The season ticket product is evolving and we want you to evolve with us,” the Sounders wrote in their message.  “Here is your chance to choose the type of season ticket you want for 2012.”

I am really on the fence on this one: Should I “evolve” with the team or stick to my old-fashioned ways? What do you think?


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