Technology solution unveiled to improve fan experience and social distancing at sports stadia


As colleges and universities prepare for returning students and sports, a digital platform has been created with contactless payment, in-seat ordering, and order-ahead functions to help improve the overall fan experience and social distancing on gamedays.

The solution for athletic departments has been created by Sidearm Sports, a digital provider behind more than 1,300 collegiate athletics websites and mobile apps, along with mobile commerce technology company VenueNext – which was born out of the San Francisco 49ers Enterprises team in 2014.

The technology enables intercollegiate athletics departments the option to embed a new fan-centric platform directly into their existing mobile apps. Notably, it provides fans access to contactless payment, in-seat ordering and ordering ahead to help schools comply with new safety standards surrounding in-venue concessions and merchandise. The enhanced offering also presents fans with reward opportunities and VIP experience options.

“We’re constantly thinking of new ways we can help our school partners use technology to better engage with their fans. Now, with college sports on pause and the increased conversation around fan experiences and safety regulations this fall, we’re thrilled to unveil this new platform with VenueNext,” said Sidearm sports president & CEO Jeff Rubin. “We are especially proud to get this started with a storied athletic program like Nebraska.”

“Contactless transactions will be a critical part of the post-Covid sports and entertainment environment,” said University of Nebraska senior deputy athletic director, external relations Garrett Klassy. “We are excited to partner with Sidearm and VenueNext to help us better prepare our athletic venues and enhance our overall fan experience.”

Aligning with Sidearm will utilize VenueNext’s mobile point-of-sale solution, called OrderNext, to support a variety of use cases for contactless ordering and payment within venues. The OrderNext mobile point-of-sale allows guests to shop, order, and pay using their personal device without venues needing additional investments in hardware or infrastructure. This includes mobile ordering for food & beverage, merchandise, and VIP access and experiences. In addition, the VenueNext mobile wallet will provide a contactless branded payment platform, including student/fan rewards to drive engagement within the venue.

“Our collaboration with Sidearm will provide colleges and universities with the tools they need to keep fans safe, comfortable and engaged,” said VenueNext CEO Anthony Perez. “Our mobile point-of-sale will allow fans to enjoy the same great experience they’ve always enjoyed but to do so safely and confidently. SIDEARM was the perfect partner for us to combine our platforms and offer schools a best-in-class solution at a time when it’s needed most.”

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James has been Editor of Stadia since 2018 having worked at print and digital magazines and websites around the world covering everything from lifestyle to sport, technology, motoring, and more. He also edits Electric & Hybrid Vehicle Technology International.

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