Using biometric data from fans as their passport to the game is rapidly changing how sports arena operators and team owners are thinking about cutting costs while boosting the live experience. A variety of authentication solutions have hit the market in recent years, and facial authentication is leading the pack for ease of use, onboarding, accuracy, and adding smiles to the faces of spectators before the first period ever starts.
Because the technology is relatively new, the scope of the value it can add to the arena experience is only beginning to be fully exploited. Pilot programs across several professional sports including NBA, MLB, MLS, and the NFL, are all demonstrating that there are incredible logistical and financial benefits across a variety of challenges.
Wait times can be shortened dramatically and staff can be repurposed to better serve customers. Even behind-the-scenes operations like internal security can be accelerated and augmented by facial authentication solutions. Here are some of the top ways it’s being deployed in stadiums and arenas that are delivering competitive cost reductions and driving fans wild.
Rapid and Accurate Admissions
There’s nothing that kills the arena experience more than being stuck in long lines. Entry is always a bottleneck, and checking tickets is typically a staff-heavy pain point that eats into revenues and frustrates families who have already been fighting traffic.
The Cleveland Browns piloted their Wicket partnership during the 2020 season, offering their crowds the option to participate in their Express Access facial authentication ticket lanes. It was an optional offering for fans who wished to participate and simply required a quick and easy registration via an enrollment website or in person at the stadium.
The results were dramatic: not only was it a delightful experience for those who opted in, but it moved fans through 4X faster than those stuck in the regular queues. In fact, it was so popular that over 50% of Browns season ticket holders have enrolled since going live without a single opt-out.
How was it for the stadium operators? They saved $8000 per line, and multiple NFL franchises have followed suit and onboarded Wicket’s platform for their own venues.
Faster Concessions Transactions
Long wait times may start at an arena’s front gate, but they certainly don’t stop there. Concession sales are one of the worst offenders, with 59% of fans saying they would stop by for an extra beer if the line was half as long.
Concession lines are one of the least-loved parts of the arena experience, and the more time attendees spend standing in the wings for hotdogs the less time they have to watch the game they paid for. And on the operations side, it’s no better. The only way to speed things up is to hire more staff and hope fans have their credit cards ready.
This is where facial authentication solutions really shine. Participating fans can set up their payment of choice on their Wicket profile and have their payments verified and processed securely and quickly. Facial authentication decisions takes about 300 milliseconds to identify a fan with 99.7% accuracy and 0% reported false positives, vastly speeding up payment transactions
Face authentication allows for faster payment transactions —that’s a win/win for patrons and owners alike.
Streamlining In-House Security
Facial authentication solutions don’t just apply to the people coming to watch a game. They make it just as easy for vendors who need to operate in secure areas, the press, and of course, the players to get in quickly and go to work.
With facial authentication, nobody has to worry about whether they remember their ID or if their badge is going to stop opening doors. As long as you brought your face and you’re where you should be, Wicket makes sure you’re always good to go.
And on that subject, while facial authentication software does recognize faces at checkpoints, it’s not facial recognition. Facial recognition software is about keeping certain known people out of stadiums, whereas facial authentication is about getting enrolled fans in as fast and securely as possible.
When it comes to the sports industry, things involving digital technology are usually slow to install, hard to dial in, and incredibly expensive. However, in the case of Wicket’s facial authentication solutions, it’s completely the opposite.
Unlike the massive screens and sound systems over the basketball court, their facial authentication software can be designed to go from a signed contract to first use in 30 days or fewer. Also, because it’s essentially the same system whether it’s used for ticketing, access control, or concessions, there’s no added challenge setting it up for any application you need.
Elevating the Arena Experience with Wicket
Wicket is the uncontested champion of facial authentication solutions for stadiums, arenas, and entertainment venues. With teams like the Cleveland Browns, New York Mets, and others using the technology, they’re changing the face of the professional sports experience one profile at a time.
If you’re ready to unlock a sensational fan experience for your fans, guests, and employees while enhancing security and maximizing revenues, contact Wicket today to join the future of sporting excellence.