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How Facial Payment Is Increasing NHL Concession Sales

One of the biggest hassles for NHL fans is the dreaded intermission rush. As soon as the buzzer sounds at the end of a period, everyone dashes out to quickly grab food and snacks, only to face long lines and crowds at the concession stands. 

These monstrosities don’t just ruin the live-game experience for fans either—vendors are increasingly unable to handle the volume, and that means lost sales and revenue. In response to this problem, NHL teams have explored several strategies to reduce the lines and boost profits. Some have added multiple transaction points, but they present logistical challenges such as increased staffing costs and complexities in managing multiple service points. Others have turned to mobile payment systems, but access is still relatively limited. 

However, there is a solution: facial authentication. This technology leverages biometric data to save on concession overhead while boosting sales, and that makes it a win/win for fans and NHL teams alike. This technology introduces a facial payment feature that allows fans to purchase food and drinks with just a glance, and its remarkable convenience and efficiency are slashing wait times and sending concession sales figures through the roof. 

Why Fans Skip Concessions at NHL Games

Any NHL fan is aware of the struggle of buying concessions during live games. Spending $400 on tickets for a family of four is already a huge investment, and the stress of a few hungry kids missing the game for a snack is enough to make anyone think twice about heading downtown. There are several reasons this happens, and most of them revolve around natural peak times for concessions sales.

Limited Windows for Concessions

In a typical NHL game, fans usually arrive about 30 minutes before the puck drops and have a 15 or 17-minute intermission between each 20-minute period. This means there are limited windows for fans to grab food or drinks without missing part of the game. The pressure to make it back to their seats in time to catch all the action creates a sense of urgency and heightens frustration when faced with long lines. In fact, a recent survey indicated that 45% of fans abandon concession lines if the wait time seems too long. With several states limiting beer purchases to one or two per trip, fans are forced to choose between facing multiple lines or just giving up entirely. For arena operators, that’s all money left on the table. 

The Dilemma of Missing the Game

The alternative to making a mad dash between periods is to trade off ice time for a beer. Yes, it probably means a shorter wait, but it’s also a serious devaluation of your ticket. The average NHL fan is paying around $90 for a seat, and while it may only take five minutes to get through a concession line during the game, that’s 25% of a period. If you factor in the $7.50 worth of lost action, the cheapest beer in the NHL ($5 in Pittsburgh) represents $12.50 of the overall experience. 

The fact is, there’s only so much a sports team can do about the practical realities of concession prices at games. That’s why it’s so important to invest in opportunities to make those interactions a delight for their fans that contribute to a sensational home ice environment. 

How Does This Affect Concession Vendors? 

The results of these problems speak for themselves. More than half of fans simply don’t spend as much because of long wait times, and they’re constantly budgeting around ever-increasing prices for food and drinks. 

Some choose to eat before they come, and others try to sneak food in. NHL teams have implemented clear and small bag policies in the name of safety, but it’s an open secret that it’s a concession issue as well. These policies may make games more secure, but when fans are facing long lines and high prices for beer, it’s not hard to understand why these processes tend to dampen the overall experience. 

That’s where teams are presented with an opportunity: is security important? Absolutely. Are prices going to be higher at a game? Always. The solution is to give fans a premium experience for their time and money, and that means investing in tech that shrinks lines and delivers fast service.

That puts a smile on the faces of vendors and fanatics alike, and facial authentication for payments at NHL games is helping teams drive profits and thrill their fans with an unbeatable home-team experience. 

How Facial Payment Works

To take advantage of facial payment, fans can opt into the service by linking a selfie and a pic of their ID for age verification services with a preferred payment method. This allows their biometric data to act as an authentication token at a point of sale. When they make a purchase at the game, a tablet equipped with FA software confirms both their age and payment in less than half a second.  

This purely optional service means that transactions can be reduced to a matter of seconds rather than minutes, and it also frees staff up to focus on preparing orders. Plus, these systems can be integrated with existing self-serve kiosks to optimize wait times or used in dedicated Express Beer lanes to enable lightning-fast sales of popular items. 

The very best facial payment software is also incredibly secure and reliable. It boasts extreme accuracy and reliability so fans can feel assured that their data is being taken care of. 

Of course, that’s just one use case for FA technology that’s saving stadium and arena operators tens of thousands of dollars every season. Here are some of the other areas where these systems can deliver similar results:

Ticketing and Merchandise 

The same line-reducing benefits also extend to ticketing and merchandise vendors as well. This multipurpose functionality makes the identical technology a valuable asset across various operations, so venue operators can use their investment strategically to generate the biggest returns. For instance, fans can use it to quickly enter the arena, purchase team merchandise, and even access exclusive areas, all with the same hardware and software. 


Facial authentication software also cuts down on the space teams need to set aside to manage long lines. By minimizing the footprint of express lanes, NHL arenas can optimize their layout to better accommodate large crowds and enhance the flow of foot traffic. This improvement can lead to a more pleasant and less congested environment for fans.

Taking NHL Concession Sales to the Next Level with Facial Payment

Facial payment is offering an incredible concession purchasing experience for NHL fans. This frictionless process drastically increases concession sales by processing transactions faster and reducing wait times. It’s an investment that lets fans know that their team’s number one priority is giving them the best and most convenient experience possible—and that’s how you build an unbeatable home-ice advantage. 

Find out more about how facial authentication can ensure that every fan’s NHL experience begins and ends with a smile, no matter what the scoreboard says at the final buzzer. 

About Wicket

Wicket Software is a privacy-first facial authentication platform provider with patented computer vision AI technology that enables sensational event experiences for fans, guests, and employees with frictionless touchpoints that delight users and strengthen security.

Wicket has been in use since 2020 and deployed for facial ticketing, credentialing, access control, and payments in numerous sports stadiums, at major conferences, and in corporate office environments.

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