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MLB’s Mets unveils facial recognition ticketing system at Citi Field

New York Mets has unveiled its facial recognition ticketing system at Citi Field ahead of the new Major League Baseball (MLB) season.

Fans who enrol in the service, powered by Wicket, will be able to gain entry to the ballpark through facial recognition rather than having to scan tickets. Those who use the service can benefit from faster entry thanks to designated express lanes.

The Mets stressed that fans who do not enrol can still have their mobile tickets scanned on entry, while fans under 14 are not eligible due to New York’s age laws on facial recognition deployment.

The Mets are the first MLB team to offer Wicket’s facial ticketing technology, although it is already deployed by the NFL’s Cleveland Browns and MLS’s Columbus Crew. The Mets and Wicket announced their partnership late last year, and a trial of the system was undertaken in some areas of Citi Field in 2021.

“We thought this is one of many components to get fans in faster,” Oscar Fernandez, Mets vice-president of technology solutions, told SportTechie.

“If you have a group of five or 10 and they’re scrolling through tickets, instead of just having one button as [Wicket] recognises your face and you’re not taking your phone out of your pocket, we thought that was a great thing to have.

“They’re used to doing [facial recognition] in other aspects of their life, whether it’s opening your phone or going to the airport and using your face to get into the gate. It’s becoming more visible and more secure.”

Fernandez assured fans that their facial details are not stored on Wicket’s devices, and said he expects “slow adoption”. However, the team is already exploring plans to also implement payments via facial recognition.

The deployment of the technology has been met with mixed reactions from fans and other observers.

The MLB season starts this Thursday with the Mets’ first home game coming on April 15 against Arizona Diamondbacks.