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Increasing and Streamlining NBA Stadium Concession Revenue

The NBA broke its all-time attendance records in the 2022/23 season, with over 22 million fans attending 791 sellout games. From Charlotte to San Francisco, the average NBA arena was 97% full, and a family of four paid just over $300 for a chance to see its biggest (and tallest) stars live and unfiltered on the court. 

There’s no greater spectacle than a live sporting event, and the NBA’s status as a premiere sporting league is backed up by a collision of top athletic talent and mind-blowing tech enhancements. The NBA’s numbers are likely to keep trending up, and as they do, it’s going to put increasing pressure on concessions vendors to churn out food and process transactions faster than ever to keep fans coming back for more. 

Unfortunately, there’s a limit to how quickly concession stands run by human hands can operate. For arena and stadium concession revenue to keep pace with demand, the NBA will have to leverage some of its tech prowess to help serve more customers faster. There are several promising solutions, but only a few have far-reaching applications that could potentially revolutionize the way the league does business. 

Understanding the Concession Challenge

Food and drinks are one of the top moneymakers for NBA teams at live games, and fans often spend up to $30 per head. With beer prices ranging from just under $5 in Cleveland to nearly $20 in Boston, there’s a lot of wiggle room in the numbers depending on the home court. 

What doesn’t change is how much long lines deter fans from making extra trips for hotdogs and beer. Data has repeatedly indicated that fans would likely spend up to 42% more on concessions if the lines were shorter. When the Broncos went all in on contactless payment systems and slashed their concessions lines in half, they saw a 34% spike in sales. 

That translates to millions of dollars over the course of a single season, and there’s plenty of momentum to build on as fans get more familiar with these solutions. The equation NBA teams will need to look for is simple: shorter lines and faster service that delivers a better fan experience. 

Tech Solutions That Boost Concessions Revenue

There are several ways for NBA franchises to shorten lines and speed up service, and some of them are more promising than others. Ambitious tech companies are pursuing a range of possible solutions, and the best options will ultimately be chosen by the public. Most of them are focused exclusively on concessions issues, but a few can be implemented throughout stadiums and arenas to save teams money anywhere there are lines and sluggish transaction speeds. 

Here are some of the top ways NBA teams can reduce lines at concession areas and maximize profits during the game. 

Mobile Ordering

The fear of missing the highlight of the year is one of the biggest reasons fans don’t want to leave their seat. A quick trip for a beer would be fine, but if they’re facing a 20-minute time-out for a hotdog they’re likely to stay put. 

Teams like the Spurs are experimenting with allowing fans to order from their seats and pick up from designated areas when it’s ready to go. The app-based service makes it easy to select from a limited assortment of services and then quickly dart out to grab and go. 

Unfortunately, these services are only available to about 80% of attendees. Only VIPs sitting in rows 1-4 have the option of in-seat ordering and having their food delivered, further highlighting that mobile ordering in stadiums and arenas will continue to offer limited services and products for the foreseeable future. 

Self-Checkout Kiosks

Nearly every grocery store in the country has embraced the self-checkout station, and it’s quickly finding its way into sports stadiums and arenas as well. They can have a big impact on lines since they take up less real estate and can be implemented in larger numbers than traditional checkout lanes. They also save money because they allow vendors to redistribute their staff. One person can oversee a number of checkout points at a time, and that means employees can focus on preparing and delivering food.

These kiosks are often fan favorites because they can make grabbing a bite and a drink a quick in-and-out, and when they’re paired with technology that accelerates payment they deliver huge revenues for operators and become a beloved part of the NBA live-game experience. 

Facial Authentication

The most promising solution—by far—for maximizing arena and stadium concessions revenue is facial authentication platforms at checkout points. Not only can these systems accelerate traditional checkout lanes by 4x as well as streamline payment processes, but the same technology can be used throughout NBA venues to reduce wait times at ticketing and merch kiosks and simplify internal access and credentialing. 

By linking fans’ faces to an online profile, facial authentication systems use secure biometric 2FA to confirm identities in as little as 300 milliseconds. Then, by linking payment information to the account, a guest’s face acts as a digital wallet anywhere there’s a point of sale. 

Facial authentication solutions boost arena and stadium concession revenue by eliminating the need for individual staff members to handle every single transaction. Also, because they use over-the-counter hardware, they are quick to onboard and take up far less space than self-checkout kiosks. 

Finally, facial authentication software is an incredibly reliable and secure way for fans to store their credit card information, with the best products boasting 99.7% accuracy and a 0% reported false positive rate. That’s probably why fans love it—and it’s forming some of the most exciting new tech and sports partnerships in the industry today. 

Taking Arena and Stadium Concession Sales to the Hoop

Regardless of the route NBA franchises choose to take advantage of increasing arena and stadium concession revenue opportunities, one thing’s for certain: technology is going to play a pivotal role in delivering the best home team experience for fans. With faster service and streamlined payment options, vendors will be able to shorten lines, satisfy their customers, and get them back to courtside to be a part of the live action. 

Facial authentication software platforms are the leading solution for premiere sports franchises in the NFL, NBA, MLB, NHL, and MLS, who are looking to revolutionize the fan experience from the ticket gate to the concession stand. Learn more about how this platform can increase your arena and stadium concession revenue and step up your game anywhere your fans are waiting. 

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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