With the NFL season in full swing, many stadiums are looking to leverage technology to future-proof their operations.

The sports industry is at an inflection point.

HD streaming options, coupled with affordable food and the comfort of your own home, has many consumers ditching the stadium experience altogether – and yet the cost of game attendance has continued to rise.

Despite nearly bouncing back to pre-pandemic levels for staffing, sports venues now must work harder to replicate the convenience of the in-home experience. To compete with this experience, stadiums across the nation including SoFi Stadium, Acrisure Stadium, Citi Field and Empower Field (among many others) are turning to technology and automation, such as kiosks, in-seat dining and QR code ordering, to improve their in-venue experience and streamline concession ordering.

With the NFL season in full swing, many stadiums are looking to leverage technology to future-proof their operations—with some organizations like the Jacksonville Jaguars already reaping these benefits.

Technology integrates multiple concepts into one order process. Put simply, automation makes ordering from multiple food vendors fast and easy. In a stadium, this enables food court-ordering like never before. In just a few minutes, a customer can select an appetizer from one restaurant, an entree from a different restaurant, and a dessert from still another, all in one seamless transaction.

 A stadium with a technologically advanced food court will see reduced wait times, improved operational efficiency, and thus produce happier customers.

In-kitchen operations are only one of a number of new technologies that have been popping up at sports arenas across the country. Ordering from your seat or from the skybox, for example, allows patrons that never-miss-a-moment experience

In-seat ordering solutions make it simple for fans to order directly from their seat, and the software will then map the order identically to their seat location including section, row, and seat number. To begin ordering, fans simply scan a QR code or tap the NFC on the back of the seat in front of them. From there, the menu pops up, and the customer can begin to place their order. Customers will then confirm their location, and the order will be delivered to them once completed.

Fans watching the game from the skybox can also order food and retail merchandise in a similar fashion. They may place their order on a kiosk inside the skybox or use a QR Code/NFC tap to order anything from jerseys and hats to beer and pretzels, all to be delivered to them in the convenience of their seat.

This type of personalized engagement with fans is exactly what sports organizations are looking for to compete with the at-home game experience. As Chad Johnson of the Jaguars, one of the teams who have recently implemented this technology, explains, “Technology has always been at the forefront for the Jaguars, so we really had to be innovators here on the experience at TIAA Bank Field. Being in a smaller market, we really have to be able to engage differently with our fans.”

The integration of technology will soon be what sets successful stadiums apart from their non-digitized competitors, and for good reason. Automation in sports stadiums reaps several benefits, like preventing long, frustrating lines and keeping guests in their seats so they never miss an important play. This tech also reduces the dependency on labor and streamlines operations.

For fans and operators alike, stadium automation presents a clear win.

Sam Zietz is a lifetime entrepreneur and the CEO of GRUBBRR, a self-ordering technologies company focused on automating commerce with its award-winning line of hardware and software solutions.


Expert Takes, Feature