Amazon may have skipped putting its name on the outside of the renovated stadium where the Seattle Kraken will begin NHL play next month, but the company is bringing its technology to the inside of Climate Pledge Arena.
The arena announced Wednesday that four food and beverage stores inside the arena will be equipped with “Just Walk Out” cashierless technology like that used in Amazon Go convenience stores and some Fresh grocery stores. The arena stores will also feature Amazon One palm-scanning tech, which lets customers enter and pay with the wave of a hand.
Just Walk Out allows customers to grab what they want and leave a store without having to stand in line. Cameras and sensors in ceilings and shelves track what a customer picks up and payment is facilitated through a credit card inserted upon entry. Amazon One uses an ID and payment method associated with a user’s biometric palm scan. Those who are new to that tech will be able to sign up at kiosks near the stores on the arena’s main and upper concourses.
The use of tech to speed shopping and avoid long lines is a key part of the tech-enhanced experience that Kraken and Climate Pledge Arena representatives have been promising for years at the redeveloped KeyArena site.
“For us, the fan experience inside Climate Pledge Arena is paramount; we want it to be simple, safe and fast for every guest,” Todd Humphrey, SVP of Digital Fan Experience for the Kraken, said in a news release. “We are thrilled to work with Amazon to use their groundbreaking technology to make it as easy as hovering your palm, picking an item off a shelf, and leaving to make your purchase.”
Humphrey told GeekWire last year that he was highly motivated “as a Canadian and as a hockey player to get people beer and to their seat faster.” A former business development director at Amazon, Humphrey previously said that he was a fan of Just Walk Out tech and that he would love to partner on that sort of experience for Kraken fans.
He was echoing the March 2017 sentiment of Tim Leiweke, CEO of Oak View Group, which led the arena redevelopment. Leiweke told GeekWire on that visit to Seattle that going through an Amazon Go store and understanding the technology was “like a life-altering moment.”
“We immediately began to talk to them about developing a self-service concessions stand in this facility, using their cloud system,” Leiweke said.
The Just Walk Out tech-enabled stores will sell beer, wine, soft drinks, coffee, water, and food offerings from The Climate Collective, the arena’s food and beverage program. Guests purchasing alcohol, which will be sold in bottles in the specialized stores, will be required to show ID to a store attendant.
Climate Pledge Arena, located at Seattle Center, opens in October and will be home to the Kraken, the WNBA’s Seattle Storm, and serve as a venue for live music and events. Amazon purchased naming rights in June 2020 and put the Climate Pledge name on the 18,100-seat venue as a way to draw more attention to the actual Climate Pledge, a promise to be net-zero carbon by 2040 that was first announced by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos in September 2019.
Amazon CEO Andy Jassy joined Seattle’s NHL team ownership group in September 2018 when he was still head of Amazon Web Services. The expansion team had yet to be awarded to Seattle and redevelopment of KeyArena was still just a proposal. As more technology is introduced to the team and the arena, Jassy’s influence over those decisions on behalf of Amazon will no doubt be part of the equation.
The Kraken’s Humphrey said last year that he meets regularly with Jassy and the tech committee Humphrey leads to do a “deep dive” on where things stand with app development, the arena, connectivity and anything else they could be doing.
“Andy is one of the leaders in all of the tech space and Amazon is, in my mind, the most advanced technology company in the world,” Humphrey said. “To have them as a partner on the arena is a huge advantage for us.”
Last week, Amazon announced that it was putting its smile logo and The Climate Pledge branding on the sides of Kraken players’ helmets, part of a corporate advertising scheme first introduced by the NHL last season.
Climate Pledge Arena is not the first sports venue to introduce Amazon’s cashier-free checkout tech. TD Garden in Boston, home of the Celtics and Bruins, announced in March that two stores were now using Just Walk Out to deliver what it called “a fast, frictionless experience.”