A Season of Tickets

Reds Season Ticket design - Joey Votto

That's a lotta Joey

A few weeks ago, Reds season tickets began hitting mailboxes all over the country. There’s been quite a buzz about this year’s design, getting mentions on blogs, sports talk radio and even Thom Brennaman sang their praises during the most recent Reds Hot Stove League broadcast. That’s a lot of talk about just a ticket design. But, that’s exactly what we LOVE to talk about here at OMGreds.

To bring the fans a bit of insight into the process of designing and producing a season ticket book (there are multiple versions, btw) we’re stoked to bring you a Q&A with Reds Design and Production Manager, Jansen Dell. Jansen has been intimately involved with the season ticket designs the past seven seasons.

Without further ado…

Thanks OMGReds for inviting me to participate on the blog. Like many other sports fans, I have kept almost every ticket stub to the events that I have attended since I was little. So, getting to be the one on the other end designing the tickets is a dream come true. This was my seventh straight season designing the Reds season tickets. I try to improve on the previous season’s booklets every year, but I was especially excited with how this season’s turned out. I’d love to tell you a little bit about the process.

When did your team start the process for this project?

After the end of the season when the players all head home, the Reds Creative Dept. is already looking ahead to the next season. We typically begin discussions on the season tickets in November.

Could you give us some insight into the initial goals of the project?

2012 Opening Day tickets in In Design

Got those guides on LOCK

The first thing we have to decide is what to feature on the tickets. With an exciting team full of great talent the choice was pretty clear that we should focus on the players. Since we had featured players the previous season for the same reasons, I knew I wanted to move away from the “one action shot of a player per ticket” layout.

If you look at a ticket, the most important part of any design is that it WORKS. Above anything else it needs to communicate the game details, get you in to the ballpark, and help you to your seat. After all of the info is laid in, the canvas left to work with gets pretty small. By consolidating the information as best I could and not repeating elements that weren’t necessary, I was able to maximize the space for the player images.

Where did you draw inspiration from? Did you look at other ticket designs around professional sports? Are there any teams or organizations that are raising the bar with their ticket designs?

Every season, the good folks at the ticket printing companies send boxes to my desk full of tickets for just about everything. I look at many examples from NFL and NBA to MLS, concerts, collegiate sports, International events like the Olympics, and of course other baseball teams. It is a quick way to catch up on how other designers tackled the problems that I am getting ready to try and solve as well serving to kick start my brain into thinking about all the different possibilities and paths I could go down.

From there, I break out the pencil and paper and start sketching whatever comes to mind. I usually end up liking little pieces from each page I have sketched, so I do one final sketch to “clean it up” that I can present as my final direction.

The Opening Day ticket gets massive prominence in the ticket book. All of Cincinnati knows that it’s a special day for the fans, the city and the team. Could you let us in on the process you went through to get to the final execution?

An early digital sketch of the 2012 Reds Opening Day ticket

An early digital sketch of the Opening Day ticket

With Opening Day being what it is in Cincinnati, we usually try to highlight it in some special way. Typically that has meant finding a way to incorporate the Opening Day logo, add some bunting, or switch up the colors slightly. In one of our early discussions about the season ticket design, Reds COO Phil Castellini challenged me to do something bigger.

I knew right away that I wanted to set it apart from the other tickets and start the book with Opening Day on its very own page. From there it was all about finding the right photos that not only highlighted what a great event Opening Day is TODAY, but also illustrate the history behind what it means to the city. Editor’s note: The final Opening Day ticket design can been see further down the page. It’s HUGE!

We noticed a vintage illustration in the background of the Opening Day ticket. We love it! What’s the backstory?

The illustration in front of Phillips on the Opening Day ticket is from right around the 1900s. The players used to get dressed and ride the trolley to the ballpark as a team. It is one of the things that led to a formal parade later. I love it and had to put it on the ticket.

We understand the ticket designs were a team effort. Any shout outs?

What most fans probably don’t realize is the multitude of different ticket types the Reds produce each season. With season, premium and partial tickets, special group areas, suites, etc. there are thirteen different booklets in two distinct sizes. Throw in flex tickets and the different ticket stocks for tickets sold at the ballpark ticket windows and the project is created using almost 1,000 supporting files. The challenge is to create a design that will work across the variety of formats.

My partner in crime inside the ticketing dept. is Bev Bonavita. She has the tough task of keeping all of the various plans straight and coordinating the fulfillment of each plan with the ticket company so that all fans get the correct tickets on time.

From the design side, the Creative Services team of Ralph Mitchell, Amy Calo, Mike King, and Kristen Snyder help me with the endless hours of production work that it takes to turn my pencil sketches into the final product.

And finally, I need a shoutout for the wordsmith Jarrod Rollins. Jarrod writes most of the content featured in the Reds publications and collateral. On the tickets, it is Jarrod, Bev and me that look over all of the boxes of ticket proofs to make sure there aren’t any mistakes with opponents, game times, etc. It doesn’t matter what the tickets look like if they are full of typos.

Um, why didn’t Sam LeCure get a design?

This is a very good question. Sam did get huge amounts of consideration. The thinking was that we could save him for a special “side-by-side” ticket of him with a throwback Mr. Redlegs if we ever celebrate Great Mustache Night.

There are a few fans we know that take their season tickets stubs very seriously — Going as far as using lanyards or plastic holders to protect them at games so they remain “minty fresh”. Since each row of tickets creates a cohesive design, do you think any season ticket holders will have a difficult time ripping their tickets out this year? Expect any requests for blank ticket books?

Another great question and one you might be surprised to hear that I really did think of, specifically as I was designing the Opening Day ticket. Because that ticket was in the center of the page I was concerned about putting the barcode in a space that wouldn’t easily scan. I was assured by the ticket dept. that the ticket would NOT need to be ripped out in order to be used at the gates. It will still scan just fine as an entire page. That is also the reason I asked the ticket company to perforate the top of the Opening Day page even though most people won’t need to use it.

So, the season ticket designs were taken up a couple of notches this season. Anything else we might get excited for design-wise this season?

The first things to get excited about are the giveaways this season. I thought last season’s bobblehead series was the best I had ever seen ANYONE create. That said, this season’s could be even better. Photos of the Joey Votto bobblehead are out now and he looks great sporting a gold glove to honor his award from 2011. He’ll be followed by Sean Casey, Jay Bruce, and Johnny Cueto.

Second, the Reds Hall of Fame and Museum has two new exhibits this year. With Barry Larkin earning the unbelievable honor of being inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame, it was only fitting that they carve out an exhibit to honor his 19 seasons as a Red.

If you have been to the Reds Hall of Fame before, this year’s Big Red Machine Exhibit should be a complete reinvention of their main gallery space. We are currently putting the finishing touches on some of the oversized graphics now. Chris Eckes and his crew have added special lighting and video screens to give visitors a completely new feel.

Finally, fans will be greeted to the front gates of GABP by a 42′ tall banner featuring Reds Hall of Fame Inductee Sean Casey and National Baseball Hall of Fame inductee Barry Larkin. This one is seriously cool.

Thanks again for letting me share a little behind-the-scenes look at the Reds season tickets. I hope all of you are as excited about the 2012 season as I am.

A huge thanks to Jansen for answering our hard-hitting investigatory journalism questions. He and his staff are uber-busy getting ready for the season, so time is precious!

He’s a look at the 2012 Reds season ticket book design. Click on an image to enlarge.

2012 Reds season ticket design - Cover


2012 Reds season ticket design - Opening Day

Opening Day

2012 Reds season ticket design - Joey Votto

Joey Votto

2012 Reds season ticket design - Johnny Cueto

Johnny Cueto

2012 Reds season ticket design - Scott Rolen

Scott Rolen

2012 Reds season ticket design - Jay Bruce

Jay Bruce

2012 Reds season ticket design - Bronson Arroyo

Bronson Arroyo

2012 Reds season ticket design - Drew Stubbs

Drew Stubbs

2012 Reds season ticket design - Brandon Phillips

Brandon Phillips


  1. KariNo Gravatar

    Thank you so much for this interview! These tickets absolutely BLEW MY MIND when I opened them! I especially appreciate the Opening Day ticket question being answered! I really did not want to have to punch that sucker out! =)


  2. RickNo Gravatar

    Great article! It’s funny how the reds are starting a push to go to digital tickets where you won’t even have a hard copy – just use your smartphone or whatever.

    Judging by the fuss over these great tickets, I think that’ll be a hard sell for some. Maybe a compromise would be to create a non-negotiable souvenir of some sort. They wouldn’t save much money though….

  3. KevinNo Gravatar

    Blank ticket books? Is that a real thing? If so how do I get one?! When I saw my weekend ticket package, it made me wish I had the whole season. But it also makes donating the tickets to Big Brother Big Sister or MVK a little tougher. I’d love to have a blank ticket book as a keepsake.

  4. What a super interesting interview Dan! Thanks for that. Something not a lot of people probably think about… but was really fascinating!

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