Leadership / 07.28.20
INTIX Members Share Their Most Prized and Cherished Tickets
Leading image credit: Phoebe Joecks Burton's Grateful Dead tickets.
If you are a sentimental fool like I am, chances are you have that one prized ticket, or even a collection of prized tickets that you have saved over the years. You might have even gone the extra mile and framed the ticket(s) along with a program or other keepsake from the cherished concert, game or other live event you attended.
My personal favorite ticket and program that I still have was to a December 1997 performance of “Othello” at the Folger Theatre at the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, D.C. My college years were spent from 1988 to 1992 as an English major. And my favorite TV show during those years was “Star Trek: The Next Generation.” This particular production married the two in that Patrick Stewart (aka Captain Jean-Luc Picard of the Enterprise-D) starred as the title character, a Moor traditionally played in recent decades by a Black actor, while the rest of the cast — traditionally all white — was 100% African American.
It was an amazing show, made even more memorable by the fact that I had a front-row seat and, at one point, Stewart got so into one of his soliloquies that I caught some of his spittle! Gross in the coronavirus era, I know. But treasured in 1997.
At any rate, I started wondering what some of the most cherished, prized or even most expensive tickets other INTIX members have in their collections. So, I polled a number of you, and below are the responses I got back.
This Ticket Is for You, Dad
“In 2017, I was gifted two tickets for the final round of the Masters. Golf had always been something that my dad and I bonded over when I was growing up, and I had dreamed of someday being able to take him to Augusta National Golf Club for the Masters. To be able to walk the grounds where so much golf history has taken place was incredible. But doing so with my dad made it very special. It is a memory I will treasure forever.” —Mike Castle, Assistant Athletic Director, Ticket Sales & Operations, Georgia Tech Athletic Association
Mike Castle and his dad at the Masters.
“It was April 2009. My wife and I were living in Denver; my parents were living in Montana, and they were planning to drive to Colorado to spend my dad’s birthday weekend with us. My dad is a huge Bruce Springsteen fan and, to my knowledge, he had never seen one of his live performances. The stars aligned in such a way that The Boss had a tour stop at the Pepsi Center on the evening his birthday! Now, buying a gift for my dad is difficult, to say the least. There’s very little I’ve ever been able to buy him that’s really made a major impact. This, however, was my chance, and Annie and I were able to quietly buy four great seats and surprise him. For as great a show as it was, I kept one eye on the stage and one eye on my dad the entire evening. To get to see him enjoy the show was more rewarding than getting to experience it myself.” — Dusty Kurtz, President, TicketsWest
“Floyd Mayweather Jr. vs. Manny Pacquiao for the World Welterweight Championship in Las Vegas! It was record-setting in every way. Never before in my 35+ years in the live event ticketing industry had I seen a ticket with a $10,000 face value! I was ringside, front row center, on camera for ‘The Fight of the Century.’ I’ve attended thousands of events and sat in lots of great seats, but this one was SUPER special!” —Ken Solky, President, LasVegasTickets.com
Ken Solky's $10,000 ticket.
“For me, it was seeing Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga at Radio City Music Hall in the third row as a birthday present. It’s such an iconic venue, and I adore both Tony and Gaga for different reasons. When they came together on ‘Cheek to Cheek’ [the album], I was thrilled. She did such a beautiful job transitioning to a jazz singer and Tony was, well, Tony!” —Rosemary Maggiore, Publisher, TheaterMania
“The 2009 Game 4 Stanley Cup Final with Pittsburgh and Detroit! It was a rematch of the Stanley Cup Final from the year before. I bet a friend early in the playoffs that year the final would be a repeat, as both teams were clearly the strongest in their conferences. The prize of the bet was a Stanley Cup Finals game. My friend had an industry connection who helped us with amazing seats, two rows from the glass beside the Penguins bench. The game was the turning point in the series, and the cup went back to Pittsburgh. Best 24 hours in Pittsburgh EVER! Being a Penguins fan since I was a kid, it was a memorable experience to see a game for the last Cup won in the Igloo.” —Carrie Farina, Director of Client Operations, Elevate Tickets
Carrie Farina's Stanley Cup Final ticket.
Too Many Favorites to Count
“It’s too hard to narrow my most prized ticket to one event or game, so I have my top three. The Kentucky Derby, which I first attended in 2014 and also attended in 2018 and 2019; the Masters in 2013 and 2017; and any of the eight Super Bowls I have been able to attend [spanning from 2004’s Super Bowl XXXVIII in Houston to 2019’s Super Bowl LIII in Atlanta].” —Josh Logan, Director of Marketing and Ticketing/Championships, NCAA
Josh Logan's framed Super Bowl tickets.
“Part of my job at TheaterMania is to take photos at all the Broadway opening nights and other fancy events like the Tonys. Early on, I used to take a party ticket from each opening night for an ever-growing collection because I didn’t want to forget all the events I had gone to over the years. The collection has fallen by the wayside as the responsibilities of my job gradually changed, but I have a collage of my favorites hanging in my apartment.” —David Gordon, Senior Features Reporter, TheaterMania.
David Gordon's Broadway collection.
Finally Seeing Your Favorite Group Live
“A very memorable ticket I purchased with my best friend was for the Tesla and Firehouse concert in 1992 at Duluth Entertainment Convention Centre (DECC) in Minnesota. I grew up in Canada four hours north of this venue. It was my second time to DECC, and it became our go-to venue for larger arena acts that toured close by in the U.S. It was SO special because it summarizes the whole experience of concert road trips during my coming-of-age years with my best friend. We played cassette tapes on the road trip, had a paper map for navigation … and VERY big feathered hairdos!” —Anja Arvo, PreSales Manager, Red61
“My top ‘hoarded’ ticket is Maroon 5 at Bridgestone in Nashville. It was my Box Office Director, Jeanie Friday, and my first concert trip together. I was so excited I forgot how to work my camera, so Jeanie had to take all of the pictures! We had a blast!” —Ebony Hattix, Senior Manager Box Office, Memphis Grizzlies
“I’ll always remember one of the first events I attended not as much for the show, but for my interaction with the box office. The rock band Styx was a favorite of mine through junior and senior high school. So, when it was announced they would be playing the Minnesota State Fair, I was all in. I submitted my request and ‘won’ the opportunity to purchase a ticket. All pent up with excitement, I drove over to the fairgrounds the day of the show. I walked up to the grandstand ready to enter when I frantically started searching for my ticket and could not find it! I walked back to the car and pulled apart the seats looking for that valuable piece of paper. No luck. I walked back to the venue to explain my situation, fully expecting to be turned away. Instead, I was greeted by a woman who listened to my entire story — I’m pretty certain she didn’t believe I was truly the band’s ‘No. 1 fan’ — and then she walked back to her office. When she returned, she said she had verified my ticket purchase — this was WAY before computerized ticketing — and wrote out a hand pass for me to use to get into the show! I enjoyed, what at the time, was the greatest concert I had ever attended. But, more importantly, it introduced me to the ticket operations world and taught me a lesson that I have carried through my entire career: Treat each customer-service scenario as if you were the customer.” —Bruce Bielenberg, Regional Director of Ticket Operations, AEG Presents Las Vegas
And The Winning Ticket Is …
“My most prized ticket I had ever gotten was for ‘Harry Potter and the Cursed Child’ on Broadway — and with the original cast! That ticket meant a lot to me because I was able to help INTIX as I won that ticket package in a live auction during the yearly conference. I’m also a big fan of the Harry Potter franchise of books, movies and theme park attractions. New York City even had an exhibit on the Harry Potter books that I was able to see on that same trip. It was also a very meaningful ticket to me because I was able to tack on this trip to NYC on the way to my family’s Christmas Market River Cruise in Europe. That was the first time on any vacation I’ve taken where everything just fell into place exactly the way I wanted it to. Quite a magical experience!” —Skypp Cabanas, Senior Manager, Ticket Operations, Center Theatre Group
Skypp Cabanas at Harry Potter and the Cursed Child.
“I had the opportunity to help process the mail order tickets for the Grateful Dead Fare Thee Well run of shows for the 50th anniversary of the group and final shows of the core four members. The mail order was record-breaking and no small task. The art from the envelopes sent in for the mail order was narrowed down to three winning choices for the actual artwork for each ticket for the Chicago run. I was able to purchase tickets to all of the Chicago events. My good friend, Elizabeth, also happened to have some extra laminate passes for VIP access to the run of three shows and a couple of extra tickets to be given away. ‘Miracles’ as the deadheads call them. My husband, who hails from the U.K. and did not grow up with the Grateful Dead, was most enthusiastic about giving away one of the miracle tickets. So we walked around the parking lot and found someone looking for a ticket and made their day with one of the free extras. So, my most prized ticket stub has a VIP laminate to accompany it and has a match out there somewhere that was ‘miracled’ to a fellow Deadhead.” —Phoebe Joecks Burton, Freelance Event Operations Contractor (recent gigs include Box Office Director at the Telluride Jazz Festival and Credential Manager at the Napa Valley Film Festival)
Phoebe Joecks Burton's Grateful Dead tickets.
New in Ticket Technology
“The 2008 Beijing Olympics Opening Ceremony was my first exposure to RFID embedded in tickets. I was with the Johnson & Johnson sponsor program at the time, and management received the tickets. That day turned out to be 95 degrees, humid, with smog like L.A. in the 1970s. Plus, I was exhausted. I waited for the last bus of VIP guests to board and handed the ticket to my intern — a student from Shanghai — and told her, ‘You go!’ She cried.” —Joan Sullivan, Senior Consultant, FutureTix
“Unfortunately, my most memorable and prized experience is not something I have a ticket for because it was all paperless. [Sighing] Modern times. Yo-Yo Ma playing the Bach Cello Suites at Red Rocks. My favorite piece of music being played by my favorite cellist at my favorite venue in the world! By some miracle, my mom, dad, brother and I were all able to go. Usually, our schedules don’t line up. Luckily, we were in the front row. I rarely aim for the front row for a concert, but the first and the last rows are the only two that are handicap-accessible in that venue. The moment his bow touched the strings, it felt like the nearly 10,000 people in that space collectively leaned forward and didn’t draw breath for the remainder of the concert.” —Sarah J. Hom, Director of Audience Services, Roundabout Theatre Company
Bittersweet Ticket Memories
“I had arranged for tickets to Game 1 and Game 2 of the 2003 World Series at Wrigley Field in Chicago. I don’t still have the ticket because the Cubs lost Game 6 of the NLCS with a late lead [the infamous Steve Bartman game] and then dropped Game 7.” —Ryan Meyer, Director of Ticketing Services, Gold Technology at PGA TOUR
“My most cherished tickets are the last two I was allowed to buy — to two Broadway musicals during INTIX in January in New York. I came home and have not used a plane ticket or a show ticket since. That makes those two tickets precious and makes me very sad. I miss live entertainment terribly!” —Linda Deckard, Founder, Deckard & Associates (and winner of the first-ever INTIX IMPACT Award)
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Tags: Music , Theater , Broadway , Leadership