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A Modern Sports Ticketing System Transforming MLS

The MLS is all about the thrill of live competition, bringing fans together for heart-pounding matches and unforgettable moments. But behind the scenes, there’s a constant push to improve the fan experience and keep up with other top sports leagues.

While MLS clubs can’t guarantee a W for the home crowd, there are many other aspects of attending a live game they can control that make going to support your team an unbeatable thrill. Long lines and inefficient access and payment processes are crucial pain points that have to be minimized to turn casual fans into live-game fanatics who keep coming back for more. 

Today, a cutting-edge sports ticketing system using facial authentication can transform the stadium experience for fans, making a trip to the game easier and more convenient than ever before. These advancements offer more than just swift access; they also empower clubs and stadiums to streamline ticketing costs and provide personalized services that cater to both VIPs and regular attendees alike.

While the cheer of the crowd might drown out some concerns about ticketing systems, it undeniably shapes the MLS experience. And with smart technologies like facial authentication paving the way for a smoother experience, there’s no better time to be a soccer fan—or an MLS club owner. 

Areas of Concern at Live MLS Games

The surge in popularity of Major League Soccer is nothing short of astounding. With impressive attendance figures and a fervent fanbase, the league is quickly solidifying its position among the top sports leagues in the United States. Sports Business Journal reported that MLS drew in over 10.8 million fans in 2023, averaging 22,000 attendees per game. That’s a per-game average on par with the NHL, NBA, and in the ballpark with MLB

Like other major sports leagues, MLS venues face significant hurdles in managing this influx of passionate fans on game day. With stadiums frequently operating at high capacity, ensuring smooth on-site fan flow has become a top priority. To justify ticket prices and sustain growth, MLS venues need to navigate potential obstacles that could hinder ticket sales and dampen fan enthusiasm. These issues often manifest in areas such as ticketing, concessions, and merchandise booths. These are all critical touch points where traffic congestion can negatively impact revenues and detract from the overall game-day atmosphere. 

Here are some of the challenges operators need to address in each of these key areas. 

Ticketing

Getting fans through the gates smoothly is literally the first step for delivering a great experience at the stadium. However, ticketing often poses some challenges, especially during peak arrival times. When long lines form, they may dampen the excitement of fans eager to get in on the action. MLS venue operators face significant pressures in managing this problem, as the frustration may translate to lost revenues throughout the season. 

Concessions

Enjoying delicious food, snacks, and refreshing beverages is integral to the MLS live game experience. However, these trips for concessions also eat into time spent watching the spectacle fans came to see, and every moment in line represents a potential missed goal or game-changing play. To combat this, MLS venue operators need to prioritize speed, efficiency, and convenience at concession stands, ensuring that fans can quickly access their favorite snacks and drinks without sacrificing valuable game time.

Merchandise Sales

MLS kits, balls, and official gear are significant revenue opportunities for clubs, and much of it is sold at the game. However, slow transaction processes and crowded points of sale may deter fans from making purchases, limiting potential sales and diminishing the overall fan experience. To capitalize on the immense popularity of MLS merchandise, venue operators need to focus on streamlining transactions and speeding up the overall shopping experience for fans. 

Credentialing

Managing access, both for staff and for fans, is another area MLS venue operators need to address. With various personnel—including concession workers and team staff—requiring access to restricted areas such as the field and staging areas, ensuring proper identification and smooth entry is essential. By making it fast and convenient for staff to enter and move through the facility, they’ll be able to focus on delivering a great experience for the fans instead of constantly fumbling for their IDs. 

Similarly, providing field-level access for VIP guests and sponsors adds a layer of complexity, requiring meticulous coordination to maintain security protocols that don’t interfere with exclusive and immersive experiences. 

How a Facial Authentication Sports Ticketing System Expedites MLS Gameday

As Major League Soccer continues to captivate fans with its exciting games and packed stadiums, venue operators face the challenge of managing the influx of passionate supporters on gameday. Several exciting technologies are changing the way fans buy and use their tickets for sporting events, but the very best also save venue operators money, are fast and easy to onboard, and add to the sensational experience of going to a live sporting event. 

Facial authentication is undoubtedly a game-changer when it comes to maximizing revenue for MLS clubs. Not only does this technology power one of the most effective sports ticketing systems available, but the same hardware and software can be deployed throughout stadiums and arenas to support existing solutions and deliver speed and convenience anywhere long lines are forming. Here are some of the ways a facial authentication sports ticketing system can revolutionize the fan experience for any major sports league. 

Expedited Entry Into the Stadium

Facial authentication transforms how you enter the stadium and keeps the pre-game buzz building. Fans can choose to opt-in to create a secure online profile to link their face with their ticket information, similar to how a digital wallet stores airline tickets. This allows them to enjoy the benefits of facial authentication, such as expedited entry through Express Access lanes.

The entire process is swift and secure, significantly reducing the pre-game stress of long lines. Plus, these lanes can speed up entry into the stadium by 4x and save clubs up to $8000 per season per lane. This allows critical staff to be redeployed and frees up valuable time for fans to explore the stadium, grab concessions, and settle into their seats with anticipation.

Also, facial authentication systems allow an entire group to enter the stadium with just one scan by linking multiple tickets to a single profile. And because the top systems use off-the-shelf hardware, they are easy to set up, intuitive and fun for fans to use, and make it extremely cost-effective to train staff. 

Finally, while Express Access lanes using facial authentication save venue operators money and put a smile on fans’ faces, the same system can be used to solve several other challenges while delivering similar operational benefits. 

Faster Concession Purchases

Efficient operations at concession stands are crucial for maximizing profits. Just as fans won’t want to wait long for snacks or beverages, vendors also want to minimize wait times to increase turnover rates. According to an Oracle study on consumer habits at sporting events, 58% of fans would spend more buying concessions if there weren’t such long lines. This means that vendors are likely to make more money if strategies to reduce wait times are implemented.

Facial authentication paired with payment information expedites transaction speeds and maximizes the number of guests vendors can serve. With a swift facial scan, fans can complete their purchases and return to their seats without worrying about how much of the action they’re going to miss. And when facial authentication is paired with other technologies like self-serve kiosks, it can maximize the return on existing investments. 

Speedier Merchandise Checkouts

Every fan wants to proudly represent their club, and merchandise booths are a goldmine for MLS clubs. However, slow checkout processes may frustrate fans and may lead to lost sales opportunities.

Facial authentication can streamline the buying experience for merchandise in the same way it boosts concession revenue. It streamlines the checkout process by leveraging facial payment functionality, allowing fans to complete their purchases faster and get back to cheering on their team.

Automated Access Control

For pre-approved attendees like media, VIPs, and staff, facial authentication can supplement physical credentials like badges or passes. By enrolling in the facial authentication system, a simple facial scan upon arrival verifies their identity and grants access according to their designated permissions. This minimizes issues of lost or forgotten physical credentials while speeding up the entry process and reduces the burden on staff by automating the process of checking credentials. 

Concerns About Integration with Existing Infrastructure?

While facial authentication offers clear benefits, concerns about its potential disruption to existing stadium processes and strategies may exist. Here’s why that might not be a problem:

  • Flexible Integration: Facial authentication systems are suitable for a wide range of use cases, and their lightweight design integrates smoothly with existing ticketing infrastructure. They can function on readily available tablets, providing a more convenient alternative for fans who wish to expedite entry or concession purchases.
  • Phased Implementation: Deploying a facial authentication sports ticketing system doesn’t have to be an all-or-nothing approach. Stadiums can implement the technology in phases, starting with specific areas or access points. This allows for a gradual integration and refinement before full-scale deployment. 

Facial Authentication and the Future of MLS

While the energy from the cheering crowd undeniably adds to the excitement of live games, facial authentication technology is silently transforming the MLS behind the scenes. This innovative technology streamlines game day, allowing a simple smile to grant quick entry for fans and expedite concession and merchandise purchases. 

And the best part is, by investing in a sports ticketing system using facial authentication, MLS clubs are building professional soccer by creating an unforgettable live experience that will bring fans back for generations to come. With facial authentication, MLS will set a new standard for fan engagement and free up resources clubs can reinvest in their home crowd. 

Ready to experience the future of MLS? Learn more about the impact of facial authentication on MLS games.

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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