Technology BMO Stadium ‘force multiplier’



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Christian Lau at Coliseum US 2023 Image: Coliseum GSVA

Christian Lau firmly believes that the future is all about autonomous retail solutions and it is no exception for the sports venues. And venues will have to develop the tech stack to embrace the just walk out, just walk up or optical self-check.

Lau, who is the Chief Technology Officer of the Los Angeles Football Club (LAFC), US, also feels that a seamless customer journey is essential to enhance the fan engagement and experience and this is possible only when venues boast tech bells and whistles especially for the zoomers.

Christian Lau has been instrumental in shaping the LAFC’s overarching technical vision and strategy and has positioned the club as one of the most tech-savvy sports organizations.

Christian Lau, Chief Technology Officer, Los Angeles FC, US, in a “mental journey” kind of chat with ‘Coliseum’ asserted that technology is a force multiplier which helps venues to eliminate a lot of friction that they have around guests and how futuristic tech is coming to the rescue of venue operators facing a common problem – staff shortage.
 

Los Angeles Football Club (LAFC)

The Los Angeles Football Club, commonly referred to as the Los Angeles FC or LAFC, is an American professional men’s soccer team based in Los Angeles, California (US). The club competes in Major League Soccer (MLS) as a member club of the league’s Western Conference. The 22,000-capacity BMO Stadium in Los Angeles serves as their home ground.
 

Autonomous Retail Solutions

Autonomous retail operations are brick-and-mortar stores that have integrated various technologies like Internet of Things (IoT), computer vision, deep learning and sensor fusion, etc., which allows customers to simply walk in, select items off shelves and leave with minimal interaction with the staff.

Commented Christian Lau, “In the year 2019, we laid the foundation for autonomous retail in the BMO Stadium because the future is all about autonomous retail, looking at face identity for ticketing, age verification, and contactless payment. Though the pandemic slowed down things for a while but we kicked off our face identity ticketing pilot with Ticketmaster and Wicket in October 2023 for a frictionless entry experience for our guests.”

He added, “To ensure that the tech-drive in a venue is a cakewalk, one needs to align with the right partners and have the right tech stack to do it.”
 

Youth Edge

Exulted Lau, “Though people have qualms about the face identity part because it comes to privacy matters but the LAFC enjoys an edge in this regard because we have a very young audience and 70 percent of our season ticket members are 18 to 34-years-old. We are a 22,000-seat venue and we have got 18,700 of those as season tickets. The young crowd is cool about face ID on their phones and privacy for them is really not a factor, they are on TikTok and Instagram and other things so they don’t really care.”
 

Amazon Just Walk out

For the LAFC, 2024 and 2025 is about autonomous retail. The LAFC has rolled out Amazon’s Just Walk Out Technology at the BMO Stadium. Guests use their mobile wallet or credit card at the entry gate and the technology detects what shoppers take from or return to the shelves and creates a virtual shopping session.

Added Lau, “Customers really love the experience and our alternate goal at the BMO Stadium is to do away with any customer-facing staff at concessions. We consider it a force multiplier for us because like all venues we struggle with staffing, we just cannot get enough people so we try to use technology and it has worked out pretty well.”
 

Sum-up

Christian Lau summed up by stating, “The BMO Stadium is tech fortified from all sides. We will get Wi-Fi 7 probably by the end of 2024 and then we are done. With Wi-Fi we are going to move into 5G and we have a whole plan around that connectivity, getting all that set up. We are deploying a 5G overlay on to our dais that will be customer-facing and then we are also building a 5G ultra wideband private network for all of our back-of-house operations. In technology, lies the future.”

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