As sports leagues around the world consider when and how to resume competition, careful considerations are being made to safety protocols for players, staff members, and spectators. With many states formalizing and executing phased reopening plans, rumblings of major American sports resuming play in the coming weeks and months ahead give hope to sports fans starved to see their favorite team take the field again.

While specific measures and timelines are still being evaluated, it is clear that significant, even disruptive changes will be required for fans to fully return to their seats. Temperature checks, officially licensed masks, and sanitation stations may all be as much a part of the new reality for sports fans attending live events as presenting a ticket upon entry.

When it comes to managing spectators arriving and entering your facility, here are three types of solutions every sports organization seeking to attract spectators should consider implementing:

Digital passes

Several major university athletic departments have announced a move to digital tickets for the upcoming season. Ole Miss Vice Chancellor Keith Carter said of their transition to digital ticketing, “Gameday experience will always be a top priority and a point of pride for our department, and this is an opportunity to utilize the latest technology to ensure a safe and convenient process for ticket delivery and stadium entrance.” In addition to solving other practical issues related to physical ticketing, like concerns over printing and shipping deadlines, digital tickets and parking passes also reduce the risks associated with multiple people physically touching and handling tickets during distribution, transfer, sale, or validation.  

Cashless transactions

There’s never been a better time than now to make the transition to cashless transactions in and around your venue. In 2018, Mercedes-Benz stadium in Atlanta became the first major NFL and MLS venue to go completely cashless, a move that now seems particularly timely. To announce the move to a completely cashless operation, Steve Cannon, CEO of the AMB Group that operates the stadium, told the Atlanta-Journal Constitution, “Cash handling is a substantial cost item that we’ll now completely remove from the enterprise.” In addition to being inefficient, antiquated, and expensive, cash handling is also unsanitary, making it particularly problematic during the COVID-19 pandemic. For these reasons, it is time to say goodbye to cash in and around your venue.

Contactless exchanges

As an added layer of protection for fans, parking lot attendants, and ticket takers, be sure your point-of-sale system and pass validation processes allow for a completely contactless exchange. This should include payment systems that allow for contactless NFC payments like Apple Pay and Google Pay, in addition to a parking pass and ticket scanning system that does not require the attendant to physically touch the ticket or pass.  

What will spectator sports look like in the near future? Different. The same protocols that worked in the past to get fans safely in and out of a stadium may be wholly inadequate in the new world in which we find ourselves. This challenge will require new solutions, some patience, and a lot of flexibility. All of us who love sports and understand the value of sports in our society should prepare to adapt accordingly to new safety protocols and to be patient as our favorite teams work tirelessly to implement a safe return to play.

Clutch! can provide the digital, cashless, and contactless solutions your organization needs to thrive under shifting health and safety protocols. For more information on how Clutch! can help your organization implement the safe and effective solutions addressed in this blog, read our April 2020 blog or contact us directly here.