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NHL News: Revenue Rising with New Sports Ticketing Technology

There are a lot of big headlines in NHL news today, with flashy hat tricks and playoff predictions  at the top of the list. These big moments are definitely sending fans flocking to games—but that also means more congestion at the front gate. It’s a significant challenge that’s directly tied to the bottom line, and solutions like facial authentication are poised to offer both faster fan admission as well as reductions in overhead. 

This innovation, implemented on an opt-in/opt-out basis, directly addresses the long, frustrating lines often encountered at entry, payment, and access points throughout the game. These issues cut into revenue for vendors, discourage live game attendance, and dampen the enthusiasm and electricity of an elite sporting event.

And the challenge is only getting bigger.

The NHL took a big step in April 2024 by staging a game at MetLife Stadium. It drew over 70,000 fans, which was the third-largest figure in league history. This is on the back of the ‘23-’24 momentum when the NHL set an all-time single-season attendance record with 22.5 million screaming hockey fans.

While this is all incredible NHL news, teams across the league will need to embrace technology that reduces wait times, or big crowds could quickly turn into backups throughout the arena that bite into profits and discourage attendance. Facial authentication solutions are a key investment that will boost revenues, delight fans, and ensure the NHL’s sustained success and dominance within the sports entertainment industry.

NHL Ticketing With Facial Authentication

Traditionally, fans can show up to an NHL game with a paper or digital ticket they show at the gate. While these methods are mostly reliable, they require an employee to manually scan each one individually. That means these lanes are slow, expensive to operate, and become frustrating bottlenecks for fans—especially those who are in groups. 

Facial authentication addresses all these issues at once by using biometric verification technology. It gives fans the option to upload a selfie photo through a secure system that lets them use facial authentication lanes at the game. These lanes are optional, and fans can still use traditional entry methods. 

Upon arrival at the arena, all enrolled ticket holders need to do is walk through an express lane equipped with facial authentication technology. In less than a second, the system identifies the fan and displays their tickets to grant them swift and secure access to the arena. 

The efficiency of this method enables venues to effectively manage crowd flow, mitigate congestion, and expedite entry processes. Fans can even link multiple tickets to a single selfie, making it easier than ever to admit families and large groups to NHL games. 

Impact on NHL Revenue

The implementation of facial authentication in sports ticketing systems isn’t just about convenience for fans. This technology offers promising revenue growth opportunities for teams that more than offset initial investment costs. Here are some of the top ways these systems will make fans and owners cheer at every home game. 

Ease of Access in Any Season

The fact is, NHL fans don’t need to brave long lines to see a hockey game. They can easily stay home and watch it online, and that means NHL franchises have to create a home-ice atmosphere that no one can afford to miss. 

Technology plays many roles in delivering an unbeatable live-game experience, including blazing big screens featuring all the action and incredible sound systems booming through the rafters. However, these highlights don’t address the practical obstacles people face when navigating a trip to the arena. And with the average temperature in Ottawa below freezing all winter, a long line outside the gate may be all it takes for fans to turn on the TV and order a pizza on game day. 

Express lanes using facial authentication give fans the confidence they need to buy a ticket and head to the arena even when they know it’s a packed house. These lanes move 4x faster than traditional ticketing lines, and that means everyone can be in their seats and ready for action (with a beer in hand!) well before the puck hits the ice. 

And the best part? Each express lane saves an average of $8000 per season. That’s a W no matter what the scoreboard says. 

Redeployment of Valuable Staff

Ticket gates at NHL arenas rely on staff members to handle the influx of fans before a game, particularly during peak arrival times. These employees are tasked with ticket verification and crowd control, and this hands-on approach can often result in long lines and delays at entry points.

Facial authentication takes the pressure off with systems that operate largely independently. A single staff member can oversee an entire lane, and because these platforms rely on biometric data, they are highly reliable and efficient. The top software in the sports industry boasts 99.7% accuracy with a 0% reported false positive rate, so fans will be verified and through the gate with a smile that never leaves their face. Consequently, NHL arenas can operate much more efficiently, reallocating resources to enhance other areas of the fan experience and cutting down operational costs associated with staffing.

Reduction in Ticket Scalping 

Ticket scalping has long been a topic in NHL news, and it undermines legitimate revenue streams and compromises the integrity of ticketing systems. However, facial authentication can combat this practice. By linking tickets to individuals’ biometric data, facial authentication renders them virtually immune to scalping. When a ticket is uniquely tied to the fan’s identity, it makes it difficult for unauthorized resellers to manipulate prices or sell counterfeit tickets. This enhanced 2FA security can instill confidence in fans and also enable arenas to have complete control over their ticketing ecosystem.

Additional Revenue Opportunities

The beauty of facial authentication technology for ticketing is that identical systems can be used throughout arenas to deliver similar benefits. They can be easily adapted to link credit card information to make concession and merchandise purchases lightning-fast, as well as accelerate access to premium experiences and lounges with an enticing layer of luxury.

Faster Concessions and Merchandise Purchases

Endless lines at concession stands within arenas have always left fans crying foul, especially when they cost them a chance to see a game-changing play. The FOMO associated with maddeningly slow wait times for food and drinks has a direct impact on both the fun of the event and the bottom line for NHL teams. 94% of fans buy concessions at games… but 59% say they would spend even more if it weren’t for the long wait times. 

With facial authentication, fans can upload a selfie and connect it to their preferred payment method just like they might with a digital wallet. Instead of fumbling for credit cards and manually processing payments, the system can confirm payment in as little as 300 milliseconds. Not only does that turn minutes into seconds at checkout, but it frees up vendor staff to focus on preparing and delivering the best products they possibly can.

One of the most popular applications at games is the Express Beer lane. These kiosks serve only beer—by far the most popular drink at sporting events—and on top of making the purchase a snap, the system can take care of age verification as well through optional ID verification for age-verified purchases as part of enrollment. 

Finally, facial authentication platforms can be integrated with a wide range of other tech investments like self-serve kiosks to add an extra layer of speed and convenience. This not only delivers a futuristic vibe for hungry fans and their families, but it also maximizes the number of customers that can be served and the revenue these kiosks can generate.  

Special Access and Premium Experiences

Facial authentication, when integrated with the arena’s amenities, can elevate premium experiences to new heights. Instead of having to repeatedly fish out tickets and re-confirm their status at every access point, a simple smile is all it takes to verify someone is a top-tier patron. This not only acknowledges how much their home team values their attendance, but it frees up staff to focus on welcoming them and creating an aura of prestige. 

Facial authentication can also enhance a variety of other aspects of the game for fans who want to make an NHL game a next-level thrill with their hard-earned dollars. These systems can connect them with expedited opportunities for premium food and drinks, luxury seating, and exclusive lounges. Plus, the system’s rapid verification process ensures that guests can quickly transition from arrival to indulgence at the game. 

The beauty of facial authentication is that it allows teams to get creative with the experiences they craft for the home crowd with a truly flexible and delightful platform that goes anywhere people do. 

Facial Authentication: The Future of NHL Ticketing

The biggest NHL news today is how sports ticketing technology leveraging facial authentication offers a promising opportunity for the NHL to continue raising their revenue while giving record-setting crowds the time of their lives. And because these systems are lightweight and use consumer hardware, they are easy for staff to use and can be onboarded in as little as 30 days. 
By adopting this technology, NHL teams can continue to build on the momentum of new initiatives and record-breaking attendance numbers. Learn more about how ticketing systems powered by facial authentication can give your fans and season ticket holders an unbeatable home team experience that will send them flocking to the ice and hungry for more after the last buzzer sounds.

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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