The Tampa Bay Rays Major League Baseball team has announced plans to make Tropicana Field the first cash-free sports venue in North America.

In partnership with hospitality partner Levy and analytics and emerging technology firm E15, the initiative will see concessions, team stores, box office and all other points of sale at the ballpark operate cash-free.

The team said it has taken the decision following extensive pilot testing engineered and led by E15 at Tropicana Field and venues nationwide to assess the effects of cash-free transactions. The tests have found that moving to cash-free environments results in an average transaction time of up to half that of traditional environments that accept cash, ensuring shorter queueing times and increased fan satisfaction.

The Rays will now accept major credit cards, Rays gift cards, NFC mobile payments such as Apple Pay and Samsung Pay, and season ticket holder Rays Cards. Fans who do not have electronic forms of payment can exchange cash for gift cards in any amount at all retail locations and in $10 (£7.60/€8.77) or $20 increments through roaming gift card vendors. Tropicana Field’s parking operations will also continue to be cash-free.

William Walsh, the Rays’ vice-president of strategy and development, said: “We have made significant investments each year to improve the ballpark experience for fans, including an overhaul of our approach to food and beverage since the beginning of our partnership with Levy. This change will increase speed of service and reduce lines throughout the ballpark.”

E15 chief executive Jaime Faulkner added: “Throughout our testing last season at Tropicana Field, we saw that fans quickly adapted to cash-free environments and loved the resulting benefits to the game-day experience. By offering fans a variety of forms of electronic payment, coupled with the ability to exchange cash for gift cards, we can ensure that fans are having frictionless experiences and getting back to enjoy the game.”

The cash-free initiative will be rolled out for the first time during the February 9 Fan Fest event at Tropicana Field.

Image: Eric Kilby