Opening Day at Wrigley Field is just eight days away, and if you are one of the approximately 8,200 fans who has a ticket for the Cubs’ first 2021 game against the Pirates, you will see new technology at the ballpark, particularly for entry.
The security devices that are going to be used at Wrigley are the same ones the team is now using at Sloan Park in Mesa, pictured above.
They’re made by a company called Evolv Technology, headquartered in Massachusetts. The devices are set to find larger pieces of metal such as weapons; they won’t be set off by keys or phones, so you can keep those in your pockets while going through them. If you happen to set off the device, it beeps, takes a photo and you are asked to step aside for further screening. The company calls them an “AI-based touchless screening system.”
I had a chance to speak with Anil Chitkara, co-founder of Evolv Technology. He told me that these systems can screen up to 3,600 people an hour, 10 times what a traditional metal detector can screen. That will help the Cubs keep lines moving and in social distancing people coming to games, which is why you have a time of entry on your ticket if you have tickets for the opening homestand.
Chitkara also told me, “The Cubs are the first MLB franchise to standardize on Evolv’s AI-enabled touchless security screening. As the major sports teams bring back fans, there is significant interest in rethinking various aspects of their operations from touchless screening to contactless payments. We are working with a number of professional teams to deploy our touchless screening as part of their reopening to welcome back fans, and to digitally transform their operations.”
So what you’ll encounter on entry to Wrigley Field is a first for Major League Baseball. Walking by Wrigley on Tuesday, BCB’s Sara Sanchez took these photos of the devices set up inside the Marquee Gate:
This is how the devices look in Mesa before they unwrap them for the day, so the entry procedure should be more or less the same in Chicago. It definitely makes the lines move faster, and good for the Cubs for being a pioneer for MLB using the Evolv Technology screening devices.
Also at Wrigley Field this year, ordering food and drink can be done via the MLB Ballpark app or online via a scanned QR code. This is also being used in Mesa, and as a result lines at concession stands have been pretty much non-existent (of course, it helps that there are only about 3,500 people at each game). In addition, starting with the 2021 regular season, Wrigley Field also will be a cashless venue, which includes concessions, retail and 50/50 raffle tickets. In Mesa, they have “reverse ATMs” where you can exchange cash for debit cards, and they will have the same system at Wrigley Field.
The Wrigley experience is going to be different, no doubt, due to COVID-19 restrictions in capacity, mask-wearing and other requirements made due to the pandemic. The Cubs have done a good job of setting up these protocols at Sloan Park and I believe they’ll be successful with them in Chicago as well.