Technology

Checkout-free shopping debuts in MLS at CityPark

Zippin has launched the first checkout-free shopping technology at a Major League Soccer (MLS) stadium, through stores at St. Louis City SC’s new CityPark.

Those who attended the recent friendly match between the expansion franchise’s reserve team, St. Louis City2, and German Bundesliga club Bayer 04 Leverkusen, experienced CityPark’s three Zippin-powered stores, which are checkout-free and feature local food favourites, grab-and-go drinks and snacks.

“We designed CityPark with a fan-first mindset and leaned heavily into rapidly changing fan behaviours,” said Matt Sebek, chief experience officer at St. Louis City SC.

“Our fans told us they wanted speed without sacrificing variety. With checkout-free technology, they get both choice and convenience. Focusing on a seamless experience builds trust in our product and gets fans back to their seats and to the action faster, which is where we want them to be.”

CityPark’s frictionless stores are strategically placed in areas of the highest demand. Two of the Zippin-powered City Go Markets are placed in the concourse behind the Supporter section to ensure speed of service during busy periods pregame and at halftime. 

Krishna Motukuri, Zippin co-founder and CEO, added: “Offering the best fan experience possible means access to great food and drink, fast. It’s a win-win for the venue and the shopper.

“We’ve seen our platform change the economics for stadiums, which is why more and more operators are turning to Zippin. Demand continues to grow as happy shoppers leave stadiums like CityPark looking for the same convenience elsewhere.” 

The game on November 16 represented CityPark’s full debut ahead of St. Louis City SC’s first season in MLS next year. A ‘soft opening’ for CityPark had been scheduled for September 18, but ultimately had to be postponed due to an internal power distribution issue at the stadium caused by unrelated construction in the local area.

In October, City SC announced that its new home would no longer be called Centene Stadium, adding it is now seeking out a new naming rights partner. City SC in February unveiled healthcare company Centene as the naming-rights sponsor of its 22,500-seat stadium.

CityPark, and its surrounding stadium district, is the largest urban professional sports campus in the U.S. and the only one with a stadium, team headquarters, and practice facility all within the same footprint.

Drawn up by St. Louis-based HOK, CityPark features an “open and welcoming architectural design” and includes a variety of amenities intended for use not just by soccer fans, including public art installations, pet-friendly spaces, bike and pedestrian pathways, greenspace and pop-up shops and restaurants.