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Mercedes-Benz Stadium buoyed by cashless debut

Atlanta’s Mercedes-Benz Stadium has reported a “very smooth” transition to a fully cashless experience, despite stating that less than one per cent of attendees at Sunday’s opening event utilised new reverse ATM machines installed in the venue.

The initiative was launched for Atlanta United’s opening home match of the 2019 Major League Soccer (MLS) season, a 1-1 draw against FC Cincinnati on Sunday. Mercedes-Benz Stadium announced last week that it would become the first NFL and MLS venue to implement a complete cashless transaction model.

The stadium said the transition would allow it to move away from its “whole-dollar” pricing model, which was initially brought in to help speed transaction times. It is hoped the move will also allow the stadium to adjust prices on food and beverage options more regularly, giving the venue the chance to lower prices incrementally versus keeping prices static.

The venture marks the latest effort by AMB Sports + Entertainment (AMBSE) – operator of the stadium, United and NFL team the Atlanta Falcons – to enhance the fan experience at the venue. AMBSE installed 10 reverse ATM machines on each level of the stadium, allowing fans to deposit up to $1,000 (£759/€885) in cash for use on a universal debit card from Visa, both inside or outside the stadium.

AMBSE spokesperson Heather Sautter told the Atlanta Business Chronicle that while the machines were used by less than one per cent of the 70,000-plus crowd at Sunday’s game, the move to card and mobile-only payments “went very smoothly,” and that officials “are pleased with the progress.” Sautter added that the number of transactions before and during the match were in direct line with average numbers from last season.

Ahead of Sunday’s game, AMB Group chief operating officer Greg Beadles said that tests last year highlighted that United fans were more receptive to cashless payment than attendees at Falcons games or at third-party events, like concerts.

“If we can improve transactions by just a couple percentage points, that’s gonna have a pretty strong impact because… it’s across the stadium across the year,” Cannon added. “And since we’re such a busy stadium with so many events, a couple percentage points of transaction lift can have a really big impact on your total revenue.”

Image: Mercedes-Benz Stadium