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in stadium experience for major league soccer teams

Improving the In-Stadium Experience for Major League Soccer Teams

Major League Soccer is exploding in America, and the league is breaking attendance records, attracting global superstars, and developing exciting new tech partnerships and sponsorship deals. New generations of fans are also able to connect with MLS through more channels than ever before. Whether it’s streaming services, apps, or a wide range of content covering every aspect of the game, fans can get an unprecedented look at what soccer has to offer.

And at the center of it all is the live game. It’s the flagship product for the league that gives fans the chance to be an active participant in the history, glory, and excitement of the sport they love. However, these events can be expensive, and there is enormous pressure to deliver on the price of a ticket—especially when competing with other major sports leagues. That means creating an in-stadium experience for major league soccer teams that is unrivaled anywhere in the industry and blows the convenience of watching the game at home out of the water.

As a result, the top major league soccer teams are constantly innovating to differentiate themselves from the competition and make their live games more immersive and rewarding than ever. Here are six fan engagement ideas to boost the in-stadium experience for major league soccer teams and turn their fans into home-game fanatics. 

1. Make Game Day Easy

Superfans will always love going to the games in person. But to get more people excited and coming back for more, stadiums need to make game day a breeze and something truly special. Cutting down on long lines with sensational technology like self-service food and drink ordering or facial authentication ticketing systems makes processes smoother and more enjoyable for everyone. And happy fans don’t just stay happy; they become promoters, telling their friends and family about the awesome game day and bringing even more people to the next one.

2. Create Engaging Fan Experiences

The inside of a stadium is a little universe that contains thrills and spectacles that don’t exist anywhere else in the sports landscape. MLS teams need to make that environment as stunning as possible by offering enticing opportunities like photos with mascots, autograph sessions with players, and interactive games. Additionally, they can host community events like soccer clinics, charity drives, or fan appreciation days to foster a sense of belonging and excitement.

3. Partner with Influencers

Celebrities add an undeniable sensationalism to the allure and appeal of going to an MLS game. By forging partnerships with celebrities and influencers across social media platforms to endorse content, facilitate ticket giveaways, or sponsor exclusive experiences, MLS can hype its live game experience and drive fans wild for a ticket. These can include:

  • MLS sports podcasters and bloggers who can amplify the club’s message to targeted demographics. 
  • YouTubers and streamers who are relevant to the fan base.
  • Co-creating innovative campaigns that significantly enhance your fan engagement strategy.

4. Encourage Feedback From Fans 

Making the in-stadium experience for Major League Soccer teams an incredible thrill for fans starts with listening to what they want (or what they hate!) and then delivering. There are many ways to connect, including through feedback from social listening, surveys, and dedicated email outreach for suggestions. This approach yields valuable insights into opportunities for experience enhancement or the introduction of desirable offerings. And by ensuring timely responses to feedback and demonstrating a commitment to integrating the top ideas, fans will feel more in control of the home-field advantage than ever before. 

5. Premium/VIP Packages 

Premium/VIP packages are another way MLS clubs can up the ante on the in-stadium experience. For a premium price, VIP experiences offer a combination of perks designed to create a more luxurious and unforgettable event.

Premium seating is a key aspect of VIP packages. Fans can snag comfy club seats, swanky loge boxes, or even field-level opportunities that put them right in the heart of the action. And to add a “wow” factor to the experience, access to these areas can be easily controlled with facial authentication technology and augmented with extra services like in-seat concessions. 

A sought-after perk of VIP packages is exclusive access to areas normally off-limits to regular ticket holders, such as pre-game player lounges, for a truly immersive experience. Enjoying pre-game entertainment, receiving commemorative gifts to mark the occasion, or getting a behind-the-scenes tour of the stadium facilities can all add up to an unforgettable experience. Facial authentication can remove the need for VIPs to keep showing their badges at every entry point with a simple smile, making it a truly premium experience throughout the stadium that feels like it’s personally tailored to them. 

6. Embrace Technology

Technology offers incredible possibilities for delivering an unbeatable in-stadium experience for Major League Soccer teams while also dramatically reducing overhead, and facial authentication is one of the most promising options. This secure biometric system verifies identities swiftly, slashing entry times by up to 4x compared to traditional strategies and reducing the physical footprint required for ticketing lanes by 75%. 

Moreover, the same technology can streamline purchasing processes at concession stands and merchandise stores to further reduce long wait times at these potential pain points. Plus, facial payment services can be integrated with other solutions that are already in place to enhance their time-saving and revenue-generating benefits. 

Benefits of Facial Authentication for Major League Soccer Teams

  • Boosted Revenue: Express Access lanes can save clubs up to $8000 per lane per season, and Express Beer lanes make it easy for vendors to turn over customers quickly and efficiently to maximize revenue. 
  • Families and Groups: Facial authentication software allows families and groups to link multiple tickets to a single profile, further accelerating entry and making it easy for them to navigate MLS stadiums. 
  • Off-the-Shelf Hardware: The top facial authentication platforms use consumer hardware that makes it easy to onboard and simple for staff to use. This means they can go live across a variety of use cases in MLS stadiums in 30 days or less. 

The Future of MLS Is Fan-Focused

Improving the in-stadium experience for Major League Soccer teams means making every moment at the game a fun, convenient, and unforgettable experience. MLS teams must consistently discover ways to surprise and delight their fans and welcome them into the stadium, and technology like facial authentication is leading the way toward better fan engagement and an unbeatable home game culture. 

With faster entry times, shorter concession lines, and a more secure environment, facial authentication can significantly enhance the entire gameday experience without requiring significant investment in resources or implementation. Learn more about what facial authentication can do for MLS and how it can solidify your team’s commitment to a fan-focused 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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