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As Stadiums Go Cashless, Fans Need to Make Adjustments

1 May, 2019

By: Michael Popke

Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla., became the first stadium in North America to go cashless earlier this year, followed by Atlanta’s Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Most transactions must be accomplished via credit cards, debit cards, gift cards or mobile payments. Fans with cash only are required to trade in their bills for a prepaid debit card or gift card.

“For us, this is all about speed of service,” Steve Cannon, CEO of AMB Group, which operates Mercedes-Benz Stadium, told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “This move to cashless will allow us to transact at a higher level and satisfy demand when demand is there.” 

The paper noted that cashless transactions “can be up to 50 percent faster than cash transactions.” 

Mercedes-Benz Stadium, home to the National Football League’s Atlanta Falcons and Major League Soccer’s Atlanta United, ran about half of its concessions stands and bars as cash-free operations during the 2018 NFL season, according to stadium officials. They also noted that cash usage is lower among United fans than Falcons fans. 

Although cashless stadiums and arenas Are not common enough to be a trend yet, Barclays Center — home of the National Basketball Association’s Brooklyn Nets — also went cashless in recent months and is facing backlash.

According to NetsDaily.com:

Critics, including some legislators, point that the policy disadvantages the poor and the young who don’t carry plastic. … Barclays and other venues have started using what are called “reverse ATMs” that convert cash to prepaid cards that can then be used to buy food and drink. That’s not cutting it with some legislators.

“I have real concerns about those machines, because it means that people have to stand in two lines,” Assemblyman Richard Gottfried (D-Manhattan) told The [New York] Post.“People may show up at the counter and either have not enough money on their prepaid cards, or be stuck with more money on their card than they need.”

Gottfried has proposed legislation requiring New York establishments to accept cash — an idea many other large cities are considering or have already implemented.

“Advocates for cashless bans worry technology is moving too fast for the 6.5 percent of American households — 8.4 million — who do not have a bank account, according to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation,” the Associated Press reports.

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