Amazon has brought its checkout-free “Just Walk Out” technology to airports, grocery stores and other shops, but now it’s coming to a particularly useful place for sports fans: the ballpark. The Houston Astros have teamed up with Amazon to install Just Walk Out systems at two concession stores in Minute Maid Park. Visit 19th Hole or Market and you can buy snacks or souvenirs between innings by inserting your credit card at the entry gate, grabbing things off the shelf, and leaving when you’re done.
There will be staff to greet you and offer help as necessary, and you’ll still have to show ID if you’re buying alcohol. However, you otherwise won’t have to talk to a cashier or use a self-checkout system. As you might guess, that could be extremely helpful given the crowds and lineups that frequently slow you down in stadiums.
The Astros’ stadium is the first in Major League Baseball to adopt Just Walk Out, and they’re using the same slightly modified system Amazon is offering to other retailers. The tech uses computer vision and other forms of AI to track shoppers as they enter and take (or put back) items. Amazon’s own stores just rely on the company’s Go mobile app instead of credit cards.
Amazon didn’t mention whether or not other MLB teams would embrace the zero-checkout offering, but it won’t be surprising if they (and other sports leagues) do. Stadium operators depend heavily on both merch sales and a swift traffic flow to turn a profit — the cost of Just Walk Out could easily be worthwhile if increases the chances you’ll buy an expensive hot dog or replica jersey.