Though thermometers in New Orleans have seldom seen a day below 90 degrees in recent weeks, Saints season ticketholders are likely beginning to feel a touch of December chill in the air like anxious children looking for Christmas presents under the tree. With the Black & Gold's preseason opener just over a month away, a feeling of "Christmas in July" will be hitting Saints fans shortly as season tickets will begin appearing in their mailboxes this week.
The process of printing the tickets is a lengthy one but the end is in sight for all involved and another season of Saints football is right around the corner.
Beginning not long after the end of the 2008 season, the design team, headed up by Chad Vincent – the Saints' new media developer – began to put together the artwork for the 2009 tickets.
In the meantime, the Saints' ticket staff worked with current seat-holders on renewing and/or upgrading their seats and those fans on the ticket waiting list to sell out all of the 60,000-plus season tickets in the Superdome for the fourth consecutive season.
From there, the ball was in the court of the ticket printers. Working with one of the top printing companies in the industry, the Saints knew this was going to be a first-class operation from start to finish.
The out-of-state printing outfit – which prefers to remain unnamed – has brought a great deal of experience and a phenomenal track record to their working relationship with the Saints. For any major event you can think of – in sports or otherwise – there's a good chance that the presses that just finished printing the Saints tickets also printed the tickets for that event.
A massive printing press, housed inside a facility that spans an entire city block, churned and produced nearly 800,000 tickets, each with specific seat and section locations. The team of workers and state-of-the-art computer systems buzzed with activity, checking, double-checking and triple checking to make sure that each seat was printed exactly as intended, and packaged to the Saints' exact specifications. In a process that could very well be fraught with potential errors and the ensuing headaches associated with misprints, exactness and precision were a must on the job. Additionally, subtle processes and watermarks were crafted into the tickets to guard against counterfeiting and forgery, with bar-coding and another feature built in that will prevent even the more keen from being able to replicate an authentic Saints game day ticket.
More than 10 NFL teams, many Major League Baseball, NBA and NHL teams, along with colleges from across the country have their tickets printed at this same facility that produced the Saints tickets. They have also been responsible for creating the tickets for numerous Super Bowls, World Series, the Kentucky Derby, major golf tournaments, NCAA Final Fours, National Championship games, the Olympics, NASCAR races, award shows, Presidential Inaugurations, American Idol, World Cups, and innumerable other events.
Saints' Director of Ticket Operations Justin Varnum recently visited the printing company and NewOrleansSaints.com went along for a look as the process neared its completion.
The last of the Saints tickets had rolled off the presses and the packages were being put together to be shipped out right on schedule.
With the high number of organizations utilizing this printer, you can imagine what a finely-tuned operation it is. A sophisticated computer system is used to determine which jobs will be printed and on which of their various presses based on the length of time the job will take and the required completion date.
Once the printing has been completed, the company has a sizable staff on hand to ensure the shipping process is just as efficient. 2009 Saints tickets were being packaged and readied for delivery as the tour of the plant was completed. Each season ticket was filled and prepared for mailing and once again checked and re-checked to make sure that the deliverables will be filled exactly as the Saints ticket department specified.
"We're extremely pleased with the way our tickets have turned out this year," Varnum said. "The printer has been great to work with and I think all of our fans will be excited when they receive them in the next few weeks."
Football season is almost here again. For Saints season ticketholders, the first signs of its arrival will be turning up very soon.