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Arthur Blank hopes to revolutionize the stadium experience yet again. AMB Group, which owns Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, announced Monday it will become the first pro sports stadium to implement a completely cashless model.
This will apply to all sporting events and nearly every concert, effective Sunday, March 10.
Mercedes-Benz Stadium is home to the NFL's Atlanta Falcons and Major League Soccer's Atlanta United and was the home for Super Bowl LIII last month.
Whether fans are buying a $1.50 hot dog, purchasing merchandise or even a game ticket — cash will no longer be accepted. The goal is to dramatically speed up transactions to keep fans from spending unnecessary time waiting in lines.
"Arthur Blank repeatedly challenges us to find innovative ways to further improve operations across our businesses," said Steve Cannon, AMB Group CEO. Cannon says the success of the concession price reductions gave them the confidence to move to a cash-free stadium.
For fans that don't carry a credit card, the stadium will provide 10 reverse ATM machines. Fans insert cash and get back a Visa Debit card. Cannon says AMB Group will pick up the transaction fee on these ATMs. "A little investment to make it as seamless as possible for fans," said Cannon.
Since dramatically slashing concession prices in half two years ago, the stadium says, it has improved bottom line margins by 15 percent. After seeing this success, several other pro teams around the country have followed suit, cutting concession prices in their stadiums.
As part of this change to cashless-only transactions, Mercedes-Benz Stadium will reduce concession prices 11 percent on select items, by changing from a whole-dollar pricing model, which was initially introduced to speed up transaction times.
Cannon says the AMB expects to maintain the number of transactions as fans adapt to this new experience. Over time, he expects an increase in transactions. With technology like Apple Pay, cashless transactions have been on the rise. According to Cannon, Apple Pay transactions at the stadium went up 600 percent in 2018, speeding up transactions by 20-30 seconds. There will be no credit card minimum, even if somebody is only buying a $1.50 hot dog.
Tropicana Field, home of the Tampa Bay Rays baseball team, previously announced it was also implementing a cashless stadium, but it doesn't take effect until March 28.
Cannon expects it will take time to adapt to the new model, but he's not anticipating too much pushback. "If our credit card transaction fees go up, that's the cost of doing business," said Cannon.