Midday Breakaway: Snubbed For The Stubs

They were originally an essential part of attending a Washington Capitals game, or any sporting event for that matter. You had to have the hard “paper” tickets if you wanted to gain entry to an event.

However, as time marched on and technology evolved the paper ticket has slowly disappeared. The hard-copy version has given way to the cheaper, more convenient digital ticketing.

And while the cost savings and benefits to the ticket producers is understood, and the convenience to fans is also understood, there is still something missing for those that appreciated the old style tickets.

Today’s Midday Breakaway is a stick tap to the paper tickets.

First Games

Any longtime Capitals fan that goes back to the days at the Capital Centre likely get very reminiscent when they see these beauties, if for no other reason, because of the pure nostalgia they ooze. Remember circling the concourse to find your “portal”?

I always appreciated a well-centered print job on these. Often times the printing roll would be slightly askew from the printer head, leading to information printed slightly outside the intended areas. But I digress.

A highly-coveted stub from the Capitals first win. More on the game here.

The next big determination for fans new to the Cap Centre was to figure out if you were walking up or down the stairs once you did find the right portal.

A side bar: The Capital Centre was the first indoor arena to have a video replay screen on its center-hung scoreboard. You’re welcome, “Jerry World”! Again, I digress.

Leaving Cap Centre, the next job was to find the right parking lot in order to find your car and begin your exit. Remember looking for the symbolic signs for Liberty Bell, Capitol, Eagle or Stars and Stripes?

All-Star Stubs

In 1982 the NHL All-Star game made its way to Washington for what has been the only time (so far) 

I would definitely frame this beauty and hang it in the Capitals cave, if I was ever fortunate enough to find an unused one in pristine condition.

Creativity, Be Gone!

Then came the less inspiring tickets, which I was never really a fan of. They were practical, sure, and never meant to provide any type ‘warm and fuzzy’ feelings to the ticket holder (like most tickets of that era). They always reminded me more of “government papers” or a simplified legal document. But this also led to an increase in fakes and forgeries.

Master? I Think Not

Then Ticketmaster entered the game. This might have been the first sign that paper tickets would eventually go away, as cost was the driving factor.

The paper got thinner and thinner and the ink cheaper and cheaper as the years progressed.

Keepers Of The Stubs

However, there have been instances of artistic resurgence in recent years. They mostly consisted of the necessary event information on the top and bottom of the ticket, with an image or graphic in the center.

A Classic Keeper

The Capitals first home outdoor game included specialized tickets that were definitely frame-worthy and a must-have for collectors.

Luckily for ticket collectors, there were plenty of these beauties available, and the tickets were scanned, not torn when entering the game.

Stubs From the Mountain Top

If you were fortunate enough to attend playoff games in 2018, did you keep your tickets?

On the surface the move to 100% digital tickets would appear to be a great cost-saver and improved convenience. But what is lost in the calculation is the long-term marketing value of stubs that are kept, coveted and displayed with honor.

It’s a shame to think there possibly won’t be a hard ticket for the game in which Alex Ovechkin breaks Wayne Gretzky’s goal scoring record.

By Jon Sorensen

About Jon Sorensen

Jon has been a Caps fan since day one, attending his first game at the Capital Centre in 1974. His interest in the Caps has grown over the decades and included time as a season ticket holder. He has been a journalist covering the team for 10+ years, primarily focusing on analysis, analytics and prospect development.
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11 Responses to Midday Breakaway: Snubbed For The Stubs

  1. Anonymous says:

    I miss the hard ticket. Ended my collection. Same for the media guides.

  2. Lance says:

    Nice post. Lots of memories from the Cap Centre (sometimes it was in Landover and sometimes in Largo). I still have quite a few ticket stubs from Caps games and concerts.

    We ought to consider the implications of digital tickets and digital “money” carefully. Digital things can be used to control our behavior. If you have a digital bank account, for example, then access to *your* money depends on the bank/powers that be giving you permission to access it. If your behavior does not suit them then you can’t use your money (or digital tickets for that matter).

    • Anonymous says:

      There is a lot of data collected via digital ticketing. Teams can now track, build user profiles, etc. which is invaluable to the teams.

      • Dan+Hornbaker says:

        Yep, but I think most understand the value of digital to business and the government. The value to customers/clients is convenience to an extent, but as Lance points out, there is a risk to the client in the digital world that is somewhat infinite.

  3. Barry Landew says:

    Great piece…fun to read. Can’t help but notice the escalation in ticket prices. Thanks for posting with all the images.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Those early stubs had a free coke from Roy Rogers on the reverse. My friend Neal and I would go from the game to Roy’s for a burger and a free coke hence many of my early stubs were redeemed for an ice cold coke.

  5. Anonymous says:

    jerry’s pizza for 6 goals and free ice cream for a hat trick! i believe it was a rangers game back in the day the caps were up 6-1 late in the first and pivonka had a hat trick in the first period and then the Rags scored to make it 6-2 with seconds left in the first period…final score was 8-6 rangers…one of worst games i ever attended….i used to have a ton of ticket stubs, but threw them away in a move a few years back. wish i had kept them now. as an earlier commenter noted, the price increase is sad

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