The American professional soccer club, The Columbus Crew, hosted its home opener of the club’s second full season this March, with several enhancements to its high-tech stadium and fan experiences in professional sport. The technology integration throughout the stadium and on display during every home match is made possible through the ongoing support of Vertiv.
Vertiv infrastructure equipment supports the network that enables fan entry into the stadium, point-of-sale systems for concessions and retail, a variety of in-game experiences – including the scoreboard and digital signage – and office and administrative IT systems for the club’s front office staff.
During the home opener, the club reported nearly 16,000 unique users and more than 9,500 simultaneous devices on its in-stadium Wi-Fi network. Both numbers are the highest ever recorded at the stadium, which has an official capacity of 20,371.
For the first time, crew supporters benefitted from a new virtual currency called Crew Cash Through the fan-focused program, individuals have the opportunity to redeem Crew Cash for concessions and retail purchases through the Crew mobile app. Fans responded positively to the advancement by placing a total number of mobile orders during the opener that represented 37% of those transactions in all of 2022. All Crew point-of-sale and retail point-of-sale systems were integrated with their loyalty and promotion platform, allowing fan flexibility in redeeming and spending Crew Cash on retail and concessions, which was implemented during the off-season.
“We continue to add digital capabilities throughout the stadium to enhance the fan experience, and we’re comfortable pushing the limits the way we do because we have confidence in our digital infrastructure from Vertiv,” says Brandon Covert, Vice President of Information Technology for the crew and Haslam Sports Group. “In addition to not having any network failures during the first match, we haven’t even had to revert to our backup systems. From an operational uptime perspective, we are performing at an exceptional level. That’s due largely to equipment and services from Vertiv.”
If fans’ phone batteries run low, they can also take advantage of four additional charging stations which allow fans to charge their mobile devices on the go. During the home opener, use of charging stations increased three times compared to last season.
One of the most notable areas of innovation to improve the fan experience is one of the least noticeable – mobile and facial recognition ticketing. These technologies have continued to make entering the stadium fast and easy for fans by allowing them to use facial authentication to pass through the stadium gates without presenting a phone or ticket to scan.
Other new digital elements at the stadium include a camera-based player tracking system, and a digital security system that accelerates physical security screening for a safer in-stadium experience.
“The crew will celebrate the two-year anniversary of its first match in the new stadium in July, and Vertiv has been there from the beginning to help major league soccer’s best fans enjoy the league’s most sophisticated fan experience,” says Pete Klanian, Senior Vice President, North America Sales at Vertiv. “We value our partnership with the crew because our organisations share core values of teamwork, relentless effort, diversity and, of course, a love for our Columbus home.”