MLB Launches Facial Authentication Entry for Fans at Phillies Stadium
Major League Baseball (MLB) is revolutionizing the fan experience by introducing facial authentication-based entry at Phillies Stadium in Philadelphia. This new entry method allows ticketed fans to skip the hassle of fumbling for their phones, scanning barcodes, or waiting in long lines, all while maintaining the utmost safety and security.
Partnering with the Philadelphia Phillies, MLB has launched a pilot program called Go-Ahead that leverages facial authentication for ticketed fans. The process is simple: fans use the MLB Ballpark app to take a selfie, which is then used for facial scanning at the stadium entrance. Once the scan is complete, fans can easily find their seats or head to the nearest concession stand.
Fans have already adapted to digital tickets and the convenience of ordering from their seats, but this hands-free entry takes things to a new level. The technology utilizes the existing contactless security protocols, ensuring a smooth and efficient process. Despite heightened safety concerns following a recent incident at another stadium, where two women were wounded by a gunshot, fans have eagerly embraced the technology.
Karri Zaremba, MLB’s Senior Vice President of Product, revealed that this entry method had been in the works for over two years. The program, which features banners directing fans at the first base gate, was officially launched on August 21. The Philadelphia Phillies had already implemented advanced security measures, such as an AI sensor technology by Evolv at their screening gates, facilitating a streamlined entry process without the need to remove personal items.
Evolv Technology, which is also used at other stadiums like Fenway Park and SoFi Stadium, focuses on providing top-notch safety protocols. Both fans and players have always felt safe at the ballpark, with Phillies outfielder Brandon Marsh expressing his confidence in the security systems.
The Go-Ahead program has been met with enthusiasm from fans. Jason Ritchie, who traveled to Philly from Bath, Maine, with his 13-year-old son to catch four Phillies games, used the Go-Ahead entry for each one. He praised the volume and speed at which the cameras operated, likening the experience to using an E-ZPass for humans. Ritchie appreciated not having to put his bags down, display his tickets, or face any unnecessary inconveniences.
To participate in Go-Ahead entry, fans aged 18 and older register and take a selfie through the app. The photo is stored as a unique numerical token and then promptly deleted. Once registered, fans can breeze through the gate without pausing or needing their phones. For the initial phase of the program, the Phillies set up two Go-Ahead facial scan camera stations at the first base gate, deploying an additional camera based on enrollment numbers and positive fan feedback.
Over 7,000 fans had enrolled in Go-Ahead ahead of a three-game series against the Angels. Zaremba stressed that fan photos are instantly deleted, and the tokens are never connected to any security system, assuring fans that their privacy and security are protected. MLB’s aim is to provide fans with an optional faster and frictionless experience, with plans to potentially expand the program to other ballparks next season.
Fans have embraced the opportunity to pose for the cameras, entering the stadium with smiles and laughter. Any early hitches, such as the capturing of too many background faces, were quickly resolved by spacing people out more effectively. MLB and the Phillies want to make it clear that this is not facial recognition technology, but rather facial authentication. The purpose is solely to verify fan authenticity and facilitate entry into the ballpark, with no ties to law enforcement or data sharing.
With the Phillies leading the NL wild-card standings and drawing an average crowd of 38,866 fans, they are considering adding extra cameras for the postseason if necessary. If the Go-Ahead program meets MLB’s expectations, it could become a fixture in other ballparks next season, enhancing the fan experience across the league.
This innovative approach to entry reflects MLB’s commitment to fan satisfaction and safety. By offering a seamless, contactless, and efficient experience, MLB is bringing the game closer to fans while ensuring their security remains paramount. Phillies fans can now enjoy watching their favorite team without unnecessary delays, making every game day an even more enjoyable experience.