Dec 14, 2023 - Business

Carolina Panthers to introduce facial recognition technology for ticketing

Carolina Panthers express entry at Bank of America Stadium.

Photo: Ashley Mahoney/Axios

Facial recognition technology will become a bigger part of the Carolina Panthers game day experience.

Driving the news: The team will introduce “express entry” ticketing on Sunday, Dec. 17, for their game against the Atlanta Falcons at Bank of America Stadium. It’s part of the team’s new partnership with Verizon and uses 5G technology.

  • Of note: The stadium has been testing the use of facial technology to ID for alcohol, but that has not been rolled out to the entire stadium, Caroline Wright, TSE chief venues officer, told reporters Thursday.

Why it matters: Facial recognition technology, which the team is calling “facial authentication,” will help get fans into the stadium faster. But it requires people to choose between convenience and privacy, as Axios’ Isaac Avilucea reported.

  • “Anything that we’re doing is about improving ingress into the facility,” Wright said.
  • She acknowledged that the technology may be concerning for some people. “We want to make sure that we’re moving at a pace that’s comfortable for them and comfortable for our staff,” Wright said.

Between the lines: Critics of facial recognition cite concerns over data security. What’s more, studies show people of color are more likely to be misidentified with facial recognition technology, per Avilucea.

State of play: Tepper Sports & Entertainment, which owns the Panthers, has been addressing stadium ingress since David Tepper bought the team in 2018:

Details: You have to opt into the program, and you must be at least 18 years old to do so. Then you’ll log into your Ticketmaster account and add your photo, which will be used in place of a mobile ticket. Fans will check in using a facial ticking lane, where a stadium staff member will validate how many people you have tickets for.

  • “Express entry” will be located at at the North Silver Club and the South Silver Club entrances.
  • Phase one of this rollout is just for club season ticket holders, but the plan is to open it to all season ticket holders next year.

What they’re saying: “As the Panthers evaluate how they want to extend this, the ability to deploy it fairly rapidly exists,” Michael Ruhnke, vice president of global enterprise and commercial lead for sports & venues for Verizon Business, told reporters.

What’s next: TSE will test express entry with the Panthers first before rolling it out to include its Major League Soccer team, Charlotte FC and other events, such as concerts.

The big picture: Facial recognition technology’s reach continues to expand, from more than 20 stadiums to 238 airports.

  • “I just boarded a plane and used my face to get on the plane,” Wright told Axios. “There’s exposure in many different areas with this technology.”
Express entry for the Silver Club level at Bank of America Stadium.
Photo: Ashley Mahoney/Axios
A tablet will scan your face, but it will not take a picture of you, Verizon's Michael Ruhnke says. Photo: Ashley Mahoney/Axios
A tablet will scan your face, but it will not take a picture of you, Verizon’s Michael Ruhnke says. Photo: Ashley Mahoney/Axios
Access denied for express entry at Bank of America Stadium.
Photo: Ashley Mahoney/Axiosf
An "express entry" sign at Bank of America Stadium.
Photo: Ashley Mahoney/Axios
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