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How to Improve the Fan Experience and Your Bottom Line

Game Day is about bringing together preparation, athletic virtuosity, and cutting-edge technology to deliver an unforgettable experience for fans that amplifies every aspect of the event. From the crushing hits on AT&T Stadium’s 20,000 sq/ft screen to the ease of grabbing a quick beer in a short line, no expense is spared to make sure spectators don’t miss a moment of the action.

Sporting events are extraordinary spectacles to produce, and as a result, they’re accompanied by massive logistical challenges. Venue operators are responsible for coordinating traffic flow, providing food, selling souvenirs, and ensuring security for everyone who bought a ticket on top of the whole reason everyone’s there—showcasing an incredible game. 

With operations for a pro team running into the hundreds of millions of dollars and tickets costing fans a significant portion of their monthly paycheck, margins are tight and spectator expectations are extremely high. Franchise owners need to do everything they can to create the best possible fan experience for the smallest bite off their bottom line. They may not be able to deliver a W for the home crowd, but there are several great ways to cut expenses while making the experience a win for fans every time. 

The Price of Glory

When venue operators are looking for areas where they can optimize their budget, technology is one of the only solutions that can both reduce overhead and enhance the fan experience. Investments in digital solutions can streamline ticket purchases while eliminating the need for paid personnel to handle calls and customer service. Parking can be one of the most stressful obstacles for a parent trying to take their family to a game, and parking apps let attendees reserve spaces while streamlining on-premises parking services. 

Of course, these technologies are very narrow in scope; they solve one problem that exists in a single area of a fan’s journey through the venue. But there is one major headache that causes irritation and frustration at nearly every turn:

Long lines.

They’re the worst, and they are plaguing patrons and producers from the entrance to the property to the exit of the parking lot. 

The Cost of Waiting

If you pay nearly $300 to take your family of four to a Yankees game and spend 2 ⅓ innings standing in line for beer and hotdogs, you’re going to be pretty mad. And if you’ve already had to wait at the ticket gate after driving an hour in traffic, just getting your kids in their seats can suck out the last of the energy you had left to actually enjoy the game. 

The fact is, the prospect of long wait times is a major obstacle for sports fanatics who can just as easily watch the game at home for free. Because lines are a major pain point for everyone, venue owners have to spend a lot of money on staffing and support to make sure they’re as streamlined as possible. The average cost of putting on an MLB game is about $300,000, and a huge portion of that is staff and security to manage all the people. 

The time it takes to get customers through merchandise and concessions also takes a bite out of profits. Ideally, a booth needs to optimize operating costs while completing the highest number of transactions per hour. However, there’s a limit to both basic economics and fan patience, and technology is one of the most promising solutions to take sales metrics to new levels. 

Reducing Lines and Expenses

Of all the technologies that can redefine the fan experience while upping revenues throughout a sports venue, facial authentication is the unquestioned standout. With a simple tablet and some software, tickets, credit cards, and other important information can be linked to a person’s biometric facial data to streamline entry, payment, and safety. 

And while facial authentication is a delightful and speedy interactive experience for patrons, it delivers huge benefits for venue operators. The top facial authentication software has a 99.7% accuracy rate with 0.00% reported false positives. In addition to being highly trustworthy, it allows for reductions and redeployment of personnel across multiple aspects of an event so they can focus on serving patrons and creating a better event. 


When the Cleveland Browns piloted their facial authentication partnership with Wicket in the contact-averse COVID environment, they were struggling with long lines at the gate that were frustrating fans, heavy on staff, and slow to process. Now, with Wicket’s software, the average time it took for a patron to get through the door was 4x faster than in regular lines, and that translated to a huge financial windfall for the Browns. Each Express Access lane saved the stadium over $8000 per game, and participants absolutely loved it.

It’s a fun, fresh, and fast reimagining of the fan experience, and the best part is that the Browns were able to save money while offering it to fans absolutely free. All participants had to do was complete a simple registration process online to set up their profile, and Wicket took care of the rest. 

Merchandise and Concessions

Like a digital wallet, facial authentication can easily be paired with a variety of payment types to reduce lines at the beer window and get fans back to the game they paid to see. Not only does it deliver the same speed and accuracy as the ticket line, but it also takes care of issues like age verification for alcohol sales. 

Of course, facial authentication is completely voluntary—fans can choose to participate or not, and they can always opt for the familiar processes if they’re more comfortable. But once they see the speed, ease, and, most importantly, security of the Wicket-registered fan experience…

…well, here are the numbers the program’s putting on the stat sheet:

  • Wicket handles 15% of the Browns’ attendance on average at every game.
  • 34,000+ Browns fans have registered for Wicket.
  • Over 140,000 ticket scans have been performed by the system.
  • Exactly ZERO fans have opted out since the beginning of the program.

Wicket is fast, accurate, and a hit with fans, vendors, and operators alike, and it’s lowering costs, accelerating lines, and making it easier to enjoy every aspect of a trip to the stadium. 

Changing the Field of Play with Wicket

Facial authentication is the single most promising technology for enhancing the fan experience while giving stadiums and arenas the opportunity to invest more in producing and presenting the on-field action. In the near future, sports venues that don’t offer Wicket experiences like Express Access and Express Beer are going to be the exception, not the rule. Their services will be increasingly viewed as second-tier by their fans, and their asymmetrical expense profile will make it harder and harder to compete as a field—not just on it. 

Wicket is the unquestioned leader in the sports and entertainment realms—it’s popular, easy, and it’s been so successful that teams in the NBA, MLB, MLS, and NFL are all making it their platform of choice. Its intuitive  interface offers fast, reliable, and secure interactions for fans and staff alike, and because it can be easily paired with existing off-the-shelf consumer hardware, onboarding is a snap. In 30 days, the biggest stadiums in the world can be onboarded and ready to roll out for their fans. 

Get in touch with Wicket to connect your operations with the fan experience of the future.

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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