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Advanced Tech Increasing Major League Soccer Revenue

  • MLS attendance rates are through the roof, and that means more fans than ever in ticket, concession, and merchandise lines. 
  • To keep up, MLS teams will need to embrace advanced tech solutions that increase profits while streamlining transactions and foot traffic.
  • Facial authentication systems can help maximize Major League Soccer revenue and deliver a sensational fan experience.

In 2022, Major League Soccer’s revenue cleared $680 million from sponsorship deals, which put it nearly on par with the NHL. With stars like Lionel Messi generating over $250 million in new ticket sales, and the 2024 Copa America and 2026 World Cup on the horizon, tech partnerships will be crucial for evolving the fan experience, streamlining live events, and maximizing the value of the game. 

There are a range of challenges the MLS will need to tackle as attendance continues to soar past 10 million per season, especially as soccer fans experience the thrill and immersive excitement tech innovation can deliver for global-scale soccer events. These products and services will need to permeate every aspect of the stadium experience to create a can’t-miss live experience, from mind-blowing visuals and audio to comprehensive opportunities to engage with the game. 

Of course, these enhancements are expensive, and to be successful, the MLS will need to make wise investments in select opportunities that both cut costs and give ticket holders a thrill. These include services that accelerate entry, shorten concession lines, and speed up transactions while giving fans a taste of a futuristic world.

Here are 3 of the top tech solutions that are boosting revenues and delighting fans at MLS games across the league. 

1. Express Access Ticketing Lanes

The front gate is simultaneously one of the least glamorous and most anticipatory experiences every fan shares. For a child who’s going to their first game, it’s a moment of overwhelming scope as the stadium towers over their head, as well as a magical threshold where the heroes they’ve been watching online become real.

Even the most seasoned season ticket holder never loses that child-like enthusiasm that greets them at the ticket window of an MLS game, and it’s why sports fans who are bitten by the live experience bug never fully recover. 

However, that trip through the front gate also sets the tone for the day, and if it’s nothing but long lines and frustrating fumbling with a phone, it’s enough to make even the most die-hard MLS fanatic think twice about heading downtown. And that can have serious financial consequences for the league’s stadium operators. 

Fortunately, Express Access lanes using facial authentication software are revolutionizing how fans get in on the game and saving MLS franchises thousands of dollars per lane per season. With a simple snapshot of a guest’s face, facial authentication platforms in Express Access lanes can verify tickets—even for groups—with a single smile in as little as 300 milliseconds

That makes entry a matter of seconds rather than minutes, moving fans an average of 4x faster than regular ticket lanes and saving franchises up to $8000 per Express Access lane per season. 

2. Streamlining Internal Operations

An MLS stadium event isn’t just complicated and expensive when it comes to moving traffic around. It requires a lot of personnel to handle security, custodial services, concessions, infrastructure, and maintenance, not to speak of the players, support staff, and the press. 

Every single one of these people needs to be onboarded, assigned physical credentials, and given a place to relax when it’s time for a break. There are an incredible number of moving pieces that are expensive to organize, and a single lost credential can be the difference between a smooth guest experience and a costly logistical headache. 

Facial authentication solutions can be deployed to save venues both time and money on all their internal credentialing challenges by connecting employees’ access data to their facial signatures. Not only do MLS franchises and their employees benefit from the same speed and accuracy facial authentication has to offer, but it also allows them to streamline their processes by unifying everything through a single data point.

And it’s not just a question of player access—it’s also about safety! There’s no question that fans love their sports heroes, and there have been instances in the past where they’ve been able to make their way past internal security using fake credentials or exploiting weak access points. With facial authentication, there’s never any question about who’s walking through the door. The technology makes every aspect of managing traffic easier and safer, and that means higher revenues, better deployment of personnel, and more time to focus on creating an unforgettable fan experience.

3. Value-Added Concession and Merchandise Sales

Nearly 60% of fans say they would love to visit concession stands more frequently during the game… if it wasn’t such a time-intensive hassle to grab a beer. Nobody wants to spend their afternoon standing in line when there’s a game going on, especially when you’re lucky enough to have a ticket!

Fortunately, facial authentication can be used to connect payment information to a guest’s profile to speed up lines and reduce wait times for cards to be processed. Not only do these solutions allow vendors to serve more customers—and therefore generate more revenue—but they can do so using the identical hardware and software MLS franchises can use for Express Access lanes. 

Beer sales are one of the key opportunities where facial authentication can drive Major League Soccer revenues at games. With the renewal of a partnership with Heineken in 2018 and skyrocketing live attendance numbers, beer sales promise to hit record numbers in future seasons. Express Beer lanes allow fans to quickly get in, grab a beer, and get back to their seat without having to worry about missing a moment of the action. 

Driving Revenues at MLS Events with Wicket

Wicket’s facial authentication software is leading the way to higher Major League Soccer revenue with fast, reliable, and easy-to-implement solutions that are delighting fans and saving hundreds of thousands of dollars a year. Although it’s some of the most advanced tech available in the sports and entertainment industry, it’s designed to be simple, integrate seamlessly with team branding, and deliver an unforgettable fan experience. 

Because it utilizes off-the-shelf hardware and its software is flexible enough for any MLS venue’s needs, it can be deployed anywhere there’s a need to shorten wait times and can be completely onboarded in as little as 30 days. 
Contact Wicket to schedule a demonstration of our facial authentication technology, and start revolutionizing the game of soccer for your fans and your franchise today.

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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