With new app, Hornets say fans won’t need to bring their wallets to home games

The Spectrum Center in uptown Charlotte.
The Spectrum Center in uptown Charlotte.

The latest iteration of the Charlotte Hornets mobile app will allow fans to order beer and nachos from their smartphones, check real-time player stats from their seats and get their tickets scanned as they walk into the Spectrum Center.

The app upgrade, which will be announced Thursday morning, will be available Oct. 2, and the plan is to have everything fully operational for the start of the season, according to Hornets Chief Marketing Officer Pete Guelli.

The larger goal with new fan technology is to make the Spectrum Center a completely “mobile-friendly” building so that fans won’t even need to bring their wallets into the arena, the team says. The app also will collect customer data, enabling the Hornets to learn more about how fans behave.

“We’re constantly looking for ways to improve the guest experience,” Guelli said. “We’re going to know a lot more about our customers with this app.”

At a time when fans’ attention spans are shorter than ever, experts say pro sports teams must work to optimize the in-arena experience with amenities like improved Wi-Fi, better food and drink options and engaging off-the-court entertainment.

During this off-season, the Hornets upgraded the Wi-Fi system at the Spectrum Center, which should make it easier to use the app, Guelli said.

Teams in Orlando, Sacramento, Portland and Miami have all similarly upgraded their mobile apps, Guelli said, and franchises in Minnesota, Utah and Brooklyn are all launching upgrades soon as well.

The app’s increased mobile ticketing options include scanning tickets, buying tickets and transferring tickets to others. With the upgraded mobile payments, customers can upload their credit card information into the app and use it to order concessions before picking them up, thus reducing wait time in line – a bit like how the Starbucks app works. They can also order merchandise on their phones with it.

The app upgrade will also feature real-time team-related content, including the roster, schedule, statistics and latest news, the Hornets say.

The roughly 100,000 people who have downloaded the Hornets’ current app will be upgraded to the new one, which is free, Guelli said. The goal ultimately would be to have all 11,000 season-ticket holders download it.

The team is considering other perks with the new technology, which is powered by the California firm VenueNext, including mobile ticketing for non-Hornets events at the Spectrum Center, and giveaways based on customer buying patterns.

If there is a fan who goes to the same stand and orders a cheeseburger every game, for instance, maybe an option would be a credit for a free burger, Guelli said.

Katherine Peralta: 704-358-5079, @katieperalta