Beginning this month, Atlanta’s Mercedes-Benz Stadium will implement a cashless transaction model, marking a notable shift in the facility’s operations.
Cashless transactions will take effect with the March 10 home opener for MLS’s Atlanta United FC, and will also be in place when the Atlanta Falcons begin their 2019 NFL season later this year. Under the new policy, all transactions inside Mercedes-Benz Stadium’s gates for Falcons and United games will have to be made through credit cards, debit cards, or mobile payment services. To accommodate fans that do not carry one of those forms of payment, the stadium will offer kiosks where cash can be loaded onto prepaid Visa debit cards.
Cash might still be accepted for merchandise sales during non-Falcons or United events, but the cashless transaction policy will apply to food and beverage sales at all stadium events. The potential to speed up transactions has been cited as a possible benefit of this switch. In addition, officials from Falcons and United parent company AMB Group point to consumer trends that lead them to believe that a cashless transaction model can be implemented successfully at the facility. More from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution:
Inside the stadium, the only exception to the cashless model could be souvenir sales for some events other than Falcons and Atlanta United games. The organizers of “third-party” events, such as concerts or college football games, will be able to sell their merchandise for cash if they choose. But the stadium’s food and beverage sales will be cashless at all events, whether the purchase is made from concession stands, bars, restaurants or hawkers.
The change follows extensive testing last year, [AMB Group CEO Steve] Cannon said. By the end of the Falcons season, about 30 of the stadium’s 70 concession stands and bars did not accept cash, he said.
Stadium-wide, the percentage of customers using cash dropped from 42 percent at the start of the Falcons season to 30 percent at the end, [AMB Sports and Entertainment chief operating officer Greg] Beadles said. Cash usage has been lower at Atlanta United games than Falcons games, he said.
“Everything we saw in 2018 gave us the confidence to make the decision … to become a cash-free stadium,” Cannon said. “For us, this is all about speed of service. … This move to cashless will allow us to transact at a higher level and satisfy demand when demand is there.”
Mercedes-Benz Stadium is not the only major sports facility of late to announce a switch to the cashless transaction model. In January, MLB’s Tampa Bay Rays announced that their home ballpark–Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg–will become a cash-free sports venue beginning with the 2019 season.
In Atlanta’s case, implementing the model now not only ensures that it goes into effect for United’s 2019 MLS season, but allows plenty of time for it to be established ahead of the NFL season.
Image courtesy Mercedes-Benz Stadium.