- With today's start to Major League Baseball's regular season, payment company Square is supporting food orders for attendees of the Washington Nationals' opening home matchup against the New York Mets. Square partnered with the team and Levy Restaurants to let fans order and pay for food and drinks in advance, and pick up their orders from a nearby concession stand, per an announcement.
- Fans must download the Caviar food-ordering app to place orders and pay while in their seat. The app will then alert them when their food is ready for pickup at the designated concession stand. Caviar will feature food from its exclusive partners, including a rotating series of pop-up offerings throughout the season.
- Roving concessions hawkers at Nationals Park will be equipped with Square Terminal, the company's handheld payment device that lets fans pay from their seat with credit cards or mobile wallets from Apple Pay and Google Pay.
Anyone who has attended a live sporting event knows that buying food and drinks can be an arduous process of leaving seats, standing in line and possibly missing out on key game plays. Square aims to make the fan experience more convenient by letting attendees preorder food and drinks and by speeding up transactions with stadium hawkers who don't need to handle cash and count out change. The convenient mobile service could compel more sports fans to purchase food and drinks during games.
Professional sports teams and venues are adding more mobile-based services to appeal to the many fans who bring their smartphones to games. Mobile apps are transforming phones into all-in-one devices that provide services like parking information, paperless ticketing, wayfinding through stadiums, food ordering and real-time data about players and teams. Mobile ticketing for sporting events is becoming the norm with spending set to jump 64% to $23 billion by 2023 from $14 billion this year, according to a study by Juniper Research.
Mobile technology is gradually transforming the experience of attending live sporting events as professional teams seek to appeal to the next generation of fans. As a sign of how mobile tech can play a key role in enhancing sporting events, the National Football League and Verizon this week formed an "innovation partnership" to focus on improving the fan experience with high-speed 5G mobile technology in stadiums.
Nationals Park isn't the only sports venue to provide mobile payment and ordering for fans. Citizens Bank Park last year worked with its food and beverage vendor Aramark to test a program that let Philadelphia Phillies fans order beer or water using Apple Business Chat. This month, the Cleveland Cavaliers basketball team partnered with Aramark on a similar test program at Quicken Loans Arena.