The Cleveland Browns NFL American football team has expanded its relationship with touchless solutions company Wicket to introduce an Express Access entry option at FirstEnergy Stadium for the upcoming season.

The Browns first teamed up with Wicket ahead of the 2020 NFL season, when a small number of fans were permitted to attend games at FirstEnergy Stadium.

Wicket’s facial authentication technology and computer vision analytics solutions are designed to provide fans with a quicker and more convenient experience when they enter the stadium. The Express Access initiative forms part of the Browns’ responsible restart plan, which was introduced in the wake of the pandemic.

During the 2020 season, Wicket tested its technology to correctly identify ticket holders and get them into FirstEnergy Stadium in a streamlined fashion, with a small number of season ticket members participating in the programme.

As FirstEnergy Stadium prepares to operate at its full capacity of 67,000 this season, Wicket will add its Express Access option for fans. Supporters who opt into Express Access will experience a quicker entry through exclusive lines and will also receive future benefits that will incorporate Wicket technology into concessions and other VIP experiences.

Express Access will be 100% voluntary, with fans able to log in to their ticketing account, upload a selfie and enter through one of the designated gate locations to enrol.

Brandon Covert, vice-president of information technology at Haslam Sports Group, which owns and operates the Browns, said: “We’re always searching for innovative ways to benefit our fans and make the game-day experience at FirstEnergy Stadium the best it can be. Express Access ticketing will give fans the opportunity for a quicker, safer and more convenient way to beat the lines and get inside the stadium.”

Glenn Borgmann, Wicket’s executive vice-president, said: “As sports fans, we all have high expectations when attending live events. And as a technology company, we are always looking for forward-thinking partners who share similar views towards innovation.

“The Browns have been finding new ways to enhance the fan experience through technology. This approach aligned with the vision we have at Wicket, where we’re pioneering new ways to leverage biometrics, facial authentication and computer vision.”

The Browns said that fans’ data and photos will not be shared with any third parties. All data will be encrypted and protected in a secure location and no photos will be stored on the entry devices.

The Browns have requested that all fans wear masks when indoors at FirstEnergy Stadium, with unvaccinated fans also required to do so while outdoors.

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