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Nats season ticket holders no longer getting printed tickets

Thursday - 1/31/2013, 5:03am  ET

natscard.png
This is what the reusable cards for Nationals season ticket holders may look like. (Courtesy of the Nationals)

John Aaron, wtop.com

WASHINGTON - The Nationals call the new system "Ultimate Ballpark Access," but for some fans, it's less than ideal.

Under the plan, season ticket holders are no longer getting the printed tickets that many keep as souvenirs.

Instead, they will be issued reusable cards, much like Metro's SmarTrip, that will be scanned for entry to Nationals Park.

The cards also can be loaded with cash and used at concessions and team stores, with fans getting discounts or earning rewards points.

The team's website says scanning the cards will reduce time spent waiting in line. A web portal component would allow ticket holders to manage their accounts, share tickets with others or print tickets.

Still, some fans wonder if sharing a season package with several other people could become a challenge.

Others think opening a large box of tickets as baseball season approaches and hanging onto ticket stubs after memorable ballgames, are big parts of the season ticket experience.

A fan who attended the recent NatsFest tells WTOP a team representative said one possibility would be to make commemorative ticket stubs available after games for a small fee, with the proceeds going to the Nationals Dream Foundation.

The Nationals say more details will come out in the next few weeks.

The team declined a WTOP request for an interview.

While the Nationals say the system will make for an easier gameday experience, MarketWatch reports there are strong economic incentives for teams to make the digital push. Fans have shown a willingness to buy digital tickets, and teams get access to enormous amounts of valuable data about fan behavior.

Other local teams have unveiled similar systems recently. On WTOP's "Ask the Owner," Capitals and Wizards owner Ted Leonsis said virtual ticketing was unfairly blamed for delays at the turnstiles of the Capitals' home opener.

Leonsis says most of the added wait time fans may have experienced was a result of the NHL's emphasis on more thorough security screenings this year.

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(Copyright 2013 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)