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Columbus Crew’s State-of-the-Art Stadium Relies on Evolv Technology

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John Baier Headshot
John Baier
Vice President, Professional Sports
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Publish date

Mar 2, 2022

One of the most rewarding aspects of my role with Evolv is partnering with sports teams and venues to understand their priorities and offer specific solutions that not only exceed expectations, but also transform their guest experience. As a sports fan myself, helping to make sports games and the venues where they are played an even better experience for fans is, quite simply, a dream job.   

Just this past weekend, the MLS’ Columbus Crew kicked off their 2022 season with a 4-0 shutout victory in front of nearly 20,000 fans cheering them on. All of these fans benefitted from an easy ingress experience thanks to Evolv Express and an innovative frictionless ticketing technology.  We appreciate the work we did with them to ensure the safety component – our systems – of their new facility met the goals of the state-of-the-art stadium before the Crew’s 2021 season.  

The result was an unparalleled fan ingress experience that Brandon Covert, the vice president of IT at the Haslam Sports Group, which manages various operational and administrative functions for Field, called “The best ingress experience in professional sports.” 

Integration with future technologies 

Because of its open API system, Evolv can integrate with other technology, whether that is something that can be applied immediately, or a technology that has yet to be implemented. 

At Field, this means facial recognition technology. To go from having to stop and be wanded by a security personnel’s handheld device and then wait to have a ticket barcode read, to an entirely frictionless experience, is a huge leap forward for fans attending a game. Fans don’t have to slow down for security, they can just walk right through, and they don’t even need to take out their phone to show a ticket because of the facial recognition. 

Breakthrough technology 

That integration is, of course, in addition to the cutting-edge technology that Evolv offers by itself. 

Setting up Evolv’s systems was as seamless a process as the entry of fans into the facility: 

  • Four dual-lane systems, along with one single-lane system at the ADA entrance ramp, were set up at the southeast gate where most fans enter the stadium. 
  • Evolv allowed as many as 16,000 fans, or 80% of capacity, to enter through that gate in a 20-minute window before the game started.  
  • A total of six dual-lane and two single-lane systems are used at the stadium. 

Evolv’s innovative security screening is not just faster, but safer. It uses advanced sensors and artificial intelligence to recognize even the weapons that are hardest to detect, like ‘ghost’ weapons made with 3D printers. 

The accuracy of the Express systems allowed the staff at Crew games to reverse ticketing and security, so that security checks came after attendees had already entered, further improving the fan experience. 

Using data to make improvements 

That’s the kind of information organizations like the Crew can take advantage of with Evolv Insights analytics. Once they inverted security and ticketing, security staff looked at Evolv data to figure out how to spread out the systems to make sure fans were using all of the Evolv lanes at that particular gate. 

An Evolv Solutions Engineer also worked with the security team to decide where to locate a secondary check-in table, so that fans flagged for double security screenings didn’t create a bottleneck going through Evolv’s systems. 

And Evolv’s Cortex AI capabilities access data insights from all of Evolv’s customers to learn and get better at detecting all kinds of weapons – and what’s not a weapon. At Field, that means more accurate recognition of what could possibly be a threatening weapon versus a suspicious but permitted item, like an umbrella. The fewer nuisance alerts, the more seamless the ingress experience.  

As much as the data is able to help maximize the Crew’s Evolv deployment, there’s really only one metric that matters to fans, and that’s how much they enjoy their experience at a game. Crew fans can’t believe how easy the entry process is at Field, and that’s going to keep them coming back. 

It starts with an organization’s specific solution, in this case, the Crew ownership’s desire for an unparalleled fan experience. Working with Evolv will deliver those results every time. 

John Baier Headshot
John Baier
Vice President, Professional Sports

John Baier serves as Vice President of Professional Sports and Entertainment. He is an experienced executive in the sports industry and provides a unique perspective understanding the needs and priorities of a ticketed venue.  He brings a proven history of business development, customer success, strategic partnerships and organizational growth…all while being obsessed with the customer journey.  John’s extensive knowledge and network in this vertical comes from having 20 years working with such organizations as Brooklyn Sports & Entertainment, the Brooklyn Nets, Barclays Center, New York Islanders and New Jersey Devils.  John holds a Bachelor of Science in Marketing from Penn State University.

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