SBJ/May 5-11, 2014/Facilities

In White Sox suites, new tablets aren’t just for ordering food

Don Muret
The Chicago White Sox and their two food providers are using tablet technology that extends beyond ordering food and drink at U.S. Cellular Field.

The White Sox signed a three-year deal with Philadelphia-based Parametric, a mobile technology company, to supply the ballpark’s 92 suites and Levy Restaurants servers with customized tablets.

The firm’s SuiteMate mobile application is tied to a two-tablet system operating in the suites. Every suite has one 10-inch tablet that patrons use to order food and drink and watch out-of-market games through the MLB At Bat application, among other functions. Those units are linked to smaller, 7-inch tablets operated by individual servers to process customers’ food and beverage orders. Both tablets accept credit cards and the servers’ tablets can split bills between individual clients in a suite, adding value to the technology, said Rob Boaz, the White Sox’s manager of premium sales and service.

The Parametric tablet system at work at a White Sox game
Photo by: COURTESY OF PARAMETRIC

Separately, Delaware North Sportservice, the team’s general concessions vendor, uses Parametric’s CheckMate tablets as its point-of-sale system in the Xfinity Clubhouse, a new bar and restaurant on the stadium’s 100 level open to all fans.

Both SuiteMate and CheckMate run on the same cloud-based platform, providing greater flexibility and wireless operations for customers, Parametric CEO Geoff Johnson said.

For the White Sox, improving the overall fan experience drove the need to use the technology for both premium dining and general concessions, Boaz said.

In the suites, for example, servers are often running between the suites and the kitchens to grab orders and may not always be present to take an order. The 10-inch tablets contain a button to push to alert servers of additional needs.

At the Xfinity Clubhouse, a dining area that flows into the main concourse, the tablets have improved the efficiency of service in a space that can get crowded before games. “It eliminates missed opportunities,” Boaz said.

In addition, the technology provides the White Sox with another tool to use for data collection, said Terry Savarise, the team’s senior vice president of stadium operations.

One month into the regular season, it’s too early to determine whether the technology has led to an uptick in food and drink sales, Boaz said.

But the White Sox have observed many suite patrons watching other MLB games streamed through MLB At Bat. To this point, watching live games in other markets is the second-most-used feature on the tablets behind ordering food and beverage, he said.

In the next few months, the White Sox plan to expand the technology to allow suite holders to order basic merchandise through the tablets and have those items delivered. Sportservice runs the ballpark’s retail operation.

Parametric’s activation at U.S. Cellular Field follows an installation at United Center, home of the Chicago Bulls and Blackhawks.

Levy runs all food service at the arena. The concessionaire is in discussions with Parametric to expand the technology to its sports accounts outside of Chicago, but no deals have been signed, Johnson said.

The White Sox paid for the technology, investing a total of $175,000, including $150,000 in the suites alone, Savarise said.

> BIRD’S-EYE VIEW: It’s that time of year again. NFL teams are upgrading their video boards and
Daktronics has been busy with installations at Bank of America Stadium, EverBank Field and University of Phoenix Stadium, site of the 2015 Super Bowl.

In Glendale, the scoreboard maker produced high-definition, 13-millimeter boards for each end zone. The larger of the two screens, 58 feet tall and 164 feet wide, goes in the south end zone, where the retractable field moves in and out of the stadium.

The boards replace Daktronics’ original units, in operation since the facility opened in 2006. They will be the fifth-largest screens in the NFL, providing 75 percent higher resolution than the old boards, said Brady Jacobsen, Daktronics’ regional sales manager for the southwest.

Daktronics also produced the video boards for Levi’s Stadium, which the San Francisco 49ers will open in early August.

Don Muret can be reached at dmuret@sportsbusinessjournal.com. Follow him on Twitter @breakground.


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