Technology / 03.23.18
Bringing Fingerprint Scanning to MLB Security Lines
For years, sports fans have complained — often quite loudly — about the long lines in which they wait just to enter their teams’ stadiums and arenas, let alone waiting for refreshments or concessions once they’re inside. The cramped space, the mess of loud voices and the snail-like pace of the lines all contribute to fan fatigue and frustration.
Imagine a better entry experience. Imagine a world in which sports fans could snap their fingers to bypass bottlenecks and stroll briskly into their venues of choice. Well, thanks to new technology, that vision is the new reality.
Enter the era of the fingerprint. CLEAR, a New York-based biometric identification company, is known for implementing special lanes at various airports worldwide for travelers to scan fingerprints to get through security and to their gates faster (this even supersedes Pre-Check where it is available). In recent years, the program expanded to security screening at major ballparks and sports arenas.
The San Francisco Giants franchise was the first to implement the technology in spring 2015, which is not a surprise considering the City by the Bay’s close proximity to the tech hubs of Silicon Valley. Jason Pearl, Senior Vice President of Business Development for the Giants, raves about the technology. “It’s really made the process of getting into our ballpark easier, more efficient and faster,” he said.
A year later, the Miami Marlins followed the Giants’ lead and installed the Marlins CLEAR Lane, which speeds fans through security at Marlins Park with just the touch of a finger. Mardi Dilger, the Marlins’ Director of Ticket Operations, said, “The past two seasons, this was used as a [Fish Family] Season Ticket Member benefit. We included the program on our weekly emails as part of the loyalty program, and it is currently being made available to all fans this year.”
There is a one-time enrollment process that only takes a few minutes and leverages CLEAR’s secure biometric platform. Once enrolled, fans simply tap their finger at the gate, scan their ticket and walk into the ballpark. CLEAR Lanes are separate from the typical security checkpoints and are only available for use by CLEAR members. They are now being used at sports venues throughout the United States, including Yankee Stadium in New York, Coors Field in Denver and the American Airlines Arena in Miami.
Like the Marlins, the Giants didn’t want to force their fans to become full-fledged CLEAR members and have to pay an annual fee. “CLEAR understood that,” Pearl said. “They realized they wanted to look broader than the subscription model and recognized this would be a great entrée for people to consider upgrading to their premium model, which provides them with CLEAR access at airports all over the world.”
Pearl continued, “It's free to our fans. We went out to all of our season ticket holders in that first year and said, ‘Hey, look. If you want to sign up for this, you won't have to go through some crazy process. You will have to give over some information because there will have to be a background check.’ CLEAR has worked with Major League Baseball to make sure that it was considered secure enough for MLB’s purposes.”
The Giants have since named the service Fast Access. Those with memberships can bring one guest and up to two children. “We were indeed the first team to work with CLEAR on this,” Pearl pointed out. “So we created the precedent for other teams who have wanted to follow suit.”
To be sure, as with so many things in today’s ever-changing security landscape, the Marlins’ CLEAR Lane has had to evolve. “Last year, to enable the ‘fast lane,’ the registered guest was not passed through a metal detector,” Dilger said. “However, with the new [Major League Baseball] guidelines this year, all guests will enter through a metal detector.”
For both Dilger and Pearl, the addition of CLEAR’s technology has been all about improving the fan experience. People arriving to watch a game want to get into the ballpark as soon as they can, and it’s up to each team to immerse them in that experience as quickly and securely as possible.
For the Giants, improving the overall fan experience is among the team’s top priorities from season to season. “It’s critical, and it’s part of our mission statement,” said Pearl. “We want to be innovative always. Anything new we look to implement, we put it through a filter and ask, ‘What will this do for us and for our fans? Will it make us a better franchise? Will it make the games more enjoyable?’ Our fans expect us to be cutting edge, and we have that opportunity with so many tech companies in our area that are looking to engage with our brand and our fans. We have a fan base full of early adopters. They are technology users. They’re not afraid of it, and they’re willing to engage.”
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Tags: Sports , Paperless , Security , Stadium