Photo of the Gate 34 entrance at Target Field. Home of the Minnesota Twins.

Image Credit: Eric Kilby (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Even if you're a casual sports fan or concert goer, you may have heard about the oncoming of 'paperless ticketing', a concept implemented primarily by ticket giant Ticketmaster. What exactly is paperless ticketing?

Paperless ticketing is a system in which the credit card used to purchase tickets to an event takes the place of the actual tickets. The overall idea is to prevent tickets from hitting the secondary ticket market for resell. Ticketmaster et al. claim that the system is a more convenient alternative to will call, mail in and print at home options. 

Speaking as a fan, there is nothing more convenient than printing your tickets at home. It completely eliminates the worries of whether or not your tickets will arrive in your mailbox on time or if they will be waiting for you when you get to the venue.

How does the system work upon the fan's arrival at the venue? The fan presents that same credit card used to make the purchase and a government issued I.D. at gate entrances. The name on the credit card and the I.D. must match exactly or problems will arise at the gate. A slip with the seat’s location is printed after the credit card is swiped and entrance is granted which means the process isn't exactly paperless.

There are only two obvious advantages with paperless ticketing; fans will be able to purchase tickets at face value and tickets can no longer be lost, forgotten or stolen. What are the disadvantages of using paperless ticketing? Well, how much time do you have to read this article?

  • No gift cards. The appeal of gift cards is that it allows fans to purchase tickets to events they know they will be able to attend. Gift cards won't grant access to the venue, only a credit card will.
  • Makes the ticket market more difficult to forecast; will fans purchase last minute due to fear of being unable to attend?
  • Issues will present themselves at the gate when credit cards are expired, lost, declined and when the names don’t match the I.D.
  • Threatens the livelihood and business model of ticket brokers, Stubhub, ticket scalpers, Ebay.
  • Allows the promoter, venue or artist to decide which events will be paperless and which will be traditional. What is their criteria in making that decision? Either make all events paperless or don't implement it at all.
  • Less incentive for fans to purchase season tickets with the inability to get rid of the tickets.
  • Once an event is sold out, that’s it. A fan has virtually no chance to attend the event. Tickets can be transferred but there are fees involved.
  • No more bargains from ticket holders wanting to get rid of their tickets.
  • No more ticket stubs as keepsakes. When the Fenway Park's and Wrigley Field's are long gone, what will fans have as mementos?
  • No cash or check transactions at the box office. Believe it or not, many fans still do not have credit cards which means they will be unable to attend an event using paperless ticketing.

Fortunately for fans, there is a nonprofit organization going to bat for fans and fighting for their rights. The Fan Freedom Project, based in Washington D.C., has been raising awareness against paperless ticketing nationwide over the past year. From This Seat was fortunate enough to be able to spend time with two of their prime leaders at Ticket Summit Las Vegas and was able to learn a little more about their duties and responsibilities.

In conclusion, could you imagine purchasing a vehicle and being told you could never trade it or sell it? When you make a purchase, you own it. Implementing paperless ticketing eliminates the secondary ticket market completely and could potentially leave thousands jobless. To learn more about what you as a fan can do to fight paperless ticketing in terms of legislation, you can visit the Fan Freedom Project's website at


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