Blackhawks no longer printing season tickets

Courtesy of the Crain’s Chicago Business

Say goodbye to ticket stubs, Blackhawks fans. And get your printers and smartphones ready.

The team this season is going digital with all of its season tickets, ending its longtime practice of printing off and mailing sheets of tickets in favor of a process that is entirely online.

In a Sept. 1 letter to season-ticket holders, the Hawks laid out the new system of distributing tickets exclusively through online accounts, touting it as a more convenient way for ticket holders to print off, transfer or resell their tickets.

Fans have had the option to get their tickets digitally and manage them online in the past but now will have no choice. Only tickets purchased with cash at the United Center box office will be sold as paper tickets.

“In keeping our fans’ best interests in mind and after extensively reviewing the new ticketing technologies available, we collectively made the decision to move to digital ticketing,” Chris Werner, Blackhawks vice president of ticketing and customer relations, said in a statement. “Digital tickets will allow our fans to transfer their tickets more efficiently, access and view their tickets on a mobile device and provide increased security for single-game buyers compared to paper tickets.”

The Hawks add to a growing list of pro sports teams opting for a digital ticketing processand conditioning fans to use mobile entry into games.

Teams say managing the ticket process through a team site not only helps people more easily share tickets when they can’t use them, but also protects against fraud and counterfeit tickets.

It also has a valuable marketing purpose. When fans get digital tickets and pull them up on their smartphones to scan them at the gates, teams can gather data about who is going to games.

That’s partly why the Chicago Bulls and White Sox stopped printing tickets for season-ticket holders a couple of years ago (though the Sox still allow fans to buy commemorative hard copy tickets for a fee). Both have offered discount incentives to encourage fans to use their smartphones for tickets at games.

The Chicago Fire two years ago similarly moved from paper tickets to a season-ticket cardand gave users discounts on food and merchandise and faster entry into games at Toyota Park.

The Cubs have tested a rewards program for select season-ticket holders the past couple of years that gives them credits toward things like pregame field access if they get their tickets digitally and use mobile entry at the gate.

But the Cubs and the Chicago Bears are now the only two major Chicago teams that still print off and mail tickets to season-ticket holders.

Like other teams that have made the switch to digital ticketing, the Blackhawks will surely get some pushback from fans that prefer hard-copy tickets. That especially goes for those who want to keep ticket stubs as souvenirs.

But working in the Hawks’ favor is that demand for their tickets is as high as it has ever been. The team is riding a 321-game sellout streak (including regular-season and playoff games) and has led the NHL in attendance for seven straight seasons.

The Hawks open the 2016-17 season on Oct. 12 at the United Center against the St. Louis Blues.