Major League Soccer (MLS) reigning champion Columbus Crew will use Aruba’s wired and wireless network to help streamline entry to its Lower.com Field stadium. 

The recently-built stadium can accommodate more than 20,000 fans and the newly implemented wireless network allows for opt-in facial recognition technology for entry, as well as other fan-focused qualities such as Wi-Fi connectivity. 

Fans can also order food and beverages through their mobile phone, while cashless payments are available throughout the venue. 

Brandon Covert, vice-president of information technology for Haslam Sports Group, which owns the Crew said: “One of the first things that we really focused on is providing a great connectivity experience, not only in the seat, but everywhere in the stadium. 

“At the gates, when there are 12,000 people waiting to get in and they’re trying to pull up their tickets, or when walking through the concourses at halftime among 20,000 people, it is a very challenging environment for live venues. That is one of the major reasons we pushed really hard towards a very robust Aruba infrastructure.”

The opt-in facial recognition system means that fans can log into their ticket account, take a selfie photo and link that picture to their account. A Wicket kiosk, provided by artificial intelligence company Wicket, is connected to the wireless network and identifies the fan’s face and the corresponding tickets on their account. 

Alternatively, fans can use the Ticketmaster barcode on their phone, which is scanned before entry. 

Covert added: “The beauty with facial recognition is fans can redeem all of their tickets with one glance versus scanning each separate ticket, it creates a much smoother process. The fan just walks up and takes about a second to look at the Wicket kiosk and their admitted group can walk right through the gates. 

“This technology has cut the time it takes to get into the stadium by more than 50%. When it comes to funnelling thousands of fans into the stadium at the same time, this adds up to significant time savings.” 

Lower.com Field opened in July this year. 

Image: Columbus Crew