[Editor’s Note: Today we have a guest entry from Mike Cline Jr. — you may know him on Twitter as Helmet Addict — who’s going to tell us about a great DIY project.]
By Mike Cline Jr.
When I was a kid in the late ’80s and early ’90s, few things topped the excitement of getting a ticket to a Buffalo Bills game. Opening up the envelope and seeing which game I would get to attend, seeing the colors and the opposing team’s logo — it was the best.
Back then, it was still quite novel and exciting for me to attend one or two games a year. As an adult, I’ve had Bills season tickets for a couple decades now. I still get excited about seeing my favorite team, but the thing I really miss are the ticket stubs from the games I attend. If you grew up in the stub era, you know what I’m talking about — each stub represented a memory of a game you went to with your dad, uncle, grandfather, friends, or whoever.
You rarely see physical tickets anymore, and the ones that do exist are a far cry from the interesting and exciting designs of years past. Some teams still have elaborate season ticket packaging, but my Bills season tickets are either digital or in the form of a card with a chip that gets scanned at the gate. Either way, there’s no chance of having a cool souvenir from each game. So I recently decided to make my own paper tickets, giving me something I could display and share with friends and family who attend games with me.
The project really started back in 2019, when my fiancé and I were planning our football-themed wedding. I decided it would be a cool idea to print up retro-styled replica tickets with our guests’ seat assignments on them. So I took out my old 1988-1991 Bills ticket stubs and recreated the basic design in Photoshop. Unfortunately, due to Covid, we had to cancel our reception and never had the chance to implement our plan. But I still had the ticket template, so I decided to use it to make myself a season ticket set for 2022.
The first step was creating all the 1980s-style helmet graphics for the visiting teams (a ticket-design approach that’s unheard of today, because teams would rather market themselves than their opponents). Using a blank helmet graphic from an old Phoenix Cardinals stylesheet that I picked up from a thrift store, I scanned and made a vector file to create modern versions of the ’80s-style graphic. Once that was completed, I added them to the ticket template I had created for the wedding project. Then I customized the seat locations and prices to reflect our actual seats.
For the first batches of printed tickets, I used 80# matte cardstock that I already had on hand. I wasn’t sure my printer would give me the results I wanted, but when using the best quality settings, the tickets came out great. Once I knew the printer could handle it, I was able to print multiple runs of tickets. Then I used an inexpensive paper cutter to cut out the individual tickets.
In the future, I may experiment with different paper types, to try and recreate the glossy feel of the old tickets. I also have plans to try to recreate the back of the ticket, which back in the day had the fine-print legal notice and usually an offer for a 99¢ Whopper or something (which I never took them up on, because I would have to give up my stub!).
For each game, I also print up blank and generic tickets, using historic Rich Stadium seat locations to give to people I meet at the games. As an added touch, I put them in a little ticket envelope just like they would give you at the box office (the same kind of envelope I would be so excited to open when I was a kid).
This was a fun and exciting project that worked out just as I planned. I also plan to recreate tickets for the three away games I’ll be attending this year. It would be great if teams brought back the option to get paper tickets, but it’s good to know that I can always DIY my own, which is even more rewarding.
Paul here. What a great project! Big thanks to Mike for sharing it with us.