Sports fans like to collect memorabilia: team jerseys, hats, signed balls — and tickets.
Certainly, you would have kept the tickets to Fenway Park for the game on the first day of October 1967 when Lonborg and Yaz made the Impossible Dream come true for Red Sox fans.
The same could be said for tickets to the June 1976 game at sweltering Boston Garden as John Havlicek and JoJo White finally wore down the Phoenix Suns and lifted the Celtics to yet another championship.
And many New England Patriots fans have undoubtedly framed the tickets to the game that snowy night in January 2002 when Adam Vinatieri kicked an incredible game-winning field goal. That victory not only propelled the Patriots to the first of their six Super Bowl championships, it was the last game ever played at the old Foxboro Stadium.
Patriots’ fans, however, will no longer be able to keep these mementos.
Beginning with the Aug. 12 preseason game against the Washington Football Team, Gillette Stadium has gone to entirely mobile ticketing. Instead of handing over a thin slice of cardboard, fans will have their phones scanned.
There’s also no need to bring cash to a Patriots game. All purchases are now done with a credit or debit card although there are cash-to-credit machines located throughout the stadium.
The changes are yet another result of the coronavirus pandemic as society switches to a more touch-free existence.
The world has indeed changed since the last game at Gillette in January 2020. For the Patriots, that playoff game 20 months ago was the last appearance in a red, white and blue uniform by Tom Brady.
And the pandemic has upended traditions and forced the world to come up with new ways of doing business.
Judging by their reaction at Thursday’s game, fans appreciated the safety precautions. “We feel so safe … we wouldn’t have brought our kids if we didn’t feel safe,” one mother told The Sun Chronicle.
Tickets are believed to have originated in ancient Greece. The Romans took the idea a step further, stamping seat details in disks of clay the size of a penny.
But it wasn’t until the mid-19th century that theater owners, desperate for a way to control crowds and anticipate revenue, developed the disposable ticket that we know today.
Mobile ticketing became widespread at entertainment venues long before the first case of COVID-19 was diagnosed.
But like so many other traditions, the pandemic appears to be hastening the departure of physical tickets. Many fans may not care now. But let’s see what happens on Oct. 3 when Tom Brady returns to Gillette — as a member of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
They may want something they can keep, to say they were there.