Go-Ahead Entry

Creating an immersive ticketless entry experience using facial authentication

Major League Baseball

  • Client
    Major League Baseball
  • Industry
    Sports
  • Services
    Design Engineering, Industrial Design, Product Innovation, Prototyping
  • Client
    Major League Baseball

    Industry
    Sports
  • Services
    Design Engineering, Industrial Design, Product Innovation, Prototyping

Take me out to the ballgame

Major League Baseball was looking for a way to streamline stadium entry and wayfinding at their stadiums to improve the fan experience. After extensive research of their entry experience, they saw fans and attendants alike looking down, navigating phones and technology as they tried to navigate the security and entry lines experience, leading to bottlenecks and frustrations. They envisioned a future ballpark experience with new technology that would create a warm welcoming first experience for fans. Along with their technology partner NEC, MLB engaged Smart Design to design a facial-recognition monolith that would enable hassle-free entry so fans could stay fully-immersed in the game experience. 
 
With its glowing “home plate” shaped beacon and sleek profile, the monolith uses discrete cameras to identify ticket holders and welcome them into the stadium without breaking a stride. The Go-Ahead Entry is a first-of-its-kind, free-flowing ingress solution for live sports and entertainment venues. This system is unique because it does not require a person to physically stop moving in order for their ticket to be scanned, and can process large groups of ticket holders all at the same time. It also provides a personalized experience, where gate attendants can greet fans by name. 
 
The goal of the initial pilot was to develop a working model to test at the Philadelphia Phillies stadium in order to gain support for a wider rollout in 2024. 

From rapid prototype to reality

In short order we had to address MLB’s lofty aspirations to create a unique and iconic monolith which both stood out to fans and generated excitement, while also communicating a completely new entry behavior.  
 
Smart Design wanted to make the Go-Ahead Entry feel exciting and welcoming and use design cues to communicate to fans how to interact with the new technology, ensuring a smooth and continuous crowd flow. Smart built a full-size experience prototype to role play the experience and make adjustments in real-time.
 
Our design approach considered how to integrate the camera technology into the welcoming monolith in order to not intimidate guests. It was also important to develop a form that encourages movement rather than fans stopping in front of the screen. Along with our partners, we were able to prototype, design, and build a working monolith within 13 weeks.

Guiding light

When approaching the monolith, the beacon’s home plate-inspired profile is designed to stand above the crowd, forming an arrow to draw fan’s toward the monolith, and guide their view upwards towards the stadium for an eyes-up experience.

Guiding light

When approaching the monolith, the beacon’s home plate-inspired profile is designed to stand above the crowd, forming an arrow to draw fan’s toward the monolith, and guide their view upwards towards the stadium for an eyes-up experience.

Intuitive instructions

The Go-Ahead Entry provides minimal on-screen instructions and simple arrows to let fans know when they have been processed and where to walk next.

Eyes-up fan experience

Rather than digging through their pockets to hand over a ticket, fans can walk through the stadium entry gate without breaking a stride.

Eyes-up fan experience

Rather than digging through their pockets to hand over a ticket, fans can walk through the stadium entry gate without breaking a stride.

Attendant experience

The monolith’s triangular form and pivoting screen allow attendants to glance at the screen while still keeping their focus on the fans, warmly welcoming them face-to-face and building memorable experience.

Club customization

The paneled design creates a customizable canvas for each club to incorporate their branding and team colors.

Club customization

The paneled design creates a customizable canvas for each club to incorporate their branding and team colors.

A home run for fans

The monolith was piloted at Citizens Bank Park, home of the Philadelphia Phillies, beginning in August 2023, and has been earning positive press coverage and reviews from the thousands of attendees who have signed up for the pilot entry experience. 
 
The Go-Ahead Entry pilot allowed for 1,400 daily users to pass through one gate – double the number of manual tickets that could be processed in one gate location. Next season, the Phillies’ stadium will be home to 7 Go-Ahead Entry locations, with 12-16 other stadiums also planning on adding the ticketless entry option in 2024.