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THU 12 MAY 2022 | INNOVATION
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How a pioneering biometric access system is allowing CA Osasuna fans to enter El Sadar quicker than ever
  • CA Osasuna worked with local company dasGate to install a facial recognition system for the stadium turnstiles, which is the first of its kind in LaLiga Santander.
  • This is one of many ways in which CA Osasuna are working to make their recently redeveloped El Sadar home ground as modern as possible.

El Sadar, the home ground of CA Osasuna, has undergone a major evolution over the past few years, with the LaLiga Santander club having carried out award-winning redevelopment work at the venue. Even with this redevelopment process completed, directors at CA Osasuna continue to work on ways to improve the facilities and the matchday experience. The latest project in this sense is a biometric access system that has been installed at the turnstiles, making El Sadar the first LaLiga Santander stadium to embrace this technology.

This facial recognition technology, provided by local company and official club sponsor dasGate, allows fans to enter the stadium without having to carry a physical ticket or season pass. As well as being more convenient, the biometric access to El Sadar is also much quicker than the alternatives, highlighted by the fact that it was allowing 20 people per minute to pass through these gates during a trial period.

The system was introduced at one gate during CA Osasuna’s LaLiga Santander match against Deportivo Alavés on April 10th and that was a success. That day, around 100 supporters used this option, which was and remains completely voluntary since it will still be possible to enter by using the physical ticket’s QR code and RFID technology or by using a pass saved on a phone. At the club’s following LaLiga Santander home game, against Real Madrid on April 20th, the trial was expanded to include eight different gates thanks to the collaboration of LaLiga’s infrastructure team. Over the coming months, this system will come to all gates.

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Discussing the implementation of the facial recognition system, the club stated: “We were introduced to dasGate's biometric access system a couple of years ago. We were initially interested in it as an access control system for employees and saw that it worked very effectively. From there, we started talking about how we could collaborate and we overcome a very complex and time-consuming data protection process to start the implementation. It now reduces waiting times, allows access without a physical pass and it is completely voluntary."

Understanding the need to evolve

CA Osasuna is a unique football team since it belongs to the members, who can vote on club matters. In recent years, those in charge have worked hard to improve the institution’s digital offering, which was once lagging behind and is now leading the way.

As the club explained: “It may seem incredible, but we didn't even sell tickets online as recently as the beginning of 2018. Now, though, we have a members’ section that allows for very advanced management of season tickets, their transfer to the secondary market and, of course, ticket sales. We were behind in this sense, but we have made up lost ground in a lot of ways, even if there are some things we still need to work on. There are even some ways, such as with this biometric access, where we are at the forefront for all of LaLiga. That was unthinkable for us just a few years ago. During the redevelopment of the stadium, we worked in parallel on everything to do with the management of season passes and ticketing to make significant improvements.”

There have also been improvements at the stadium in terms of the quality of the WiFi and the efficiency of the catering. El Sadar is also the only LaLiga stadium where photographers can work pitchside while directly connected to the fiber-optic network. All of this contributed to El Sadar being voted as the ‘World Stadium of the Year 2021’ by Stadium Database.

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At the club, there is a keen awareness of the need to offer state-of-the-art facilities to convince spectators to spend their precious time and money watching the team. In the club’s view: “Innovation and technology are very present in everyone’s daily lives, especially for the younger generation. Football has to compete with other leisure offerings and can’t stand still thinking that the spectacle of the match is attractive on its own. It is attractive, of course, but it must be surrounded by amenities and facilities that make it enjoyable to go to the stadium, to be a member and to get involved in the day-to-day life of the club.”

As well as enhancing the matchday experience, CA Osasuna’s overall digitalisation process is helping the club to better connect with football fans every day of the week. The club explained: “Technology can also help us to promote the club, to grow, to increase interest and to get to know those around CA Osasuna better. What we try to do at CA Osasuna is to be as well prepared as possible so that our members and fans have top-class facilities.”

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Two Navarre institutions coming together

From CA Osasuna’s point of view, it is especially satisfying to be able to work with a leading local business, putting Navarre’s tech industry on the map. dasGate is based in Tajonar, where CA Osasuna have their academy and sporting complex, so these two institutions are essentially neighbours.

On working with dasGate, CA Osasuna stated: “Navarre is an enterprising and highly innovative region. We are fortunate to have companies that are at the forefront in their respective sectors, as is the case of dasGate, with this access system. We want coming to El Sadar to be a very comfortable and gratifying experience for our members, so that they want to come and repeat the experience every weekend. To be able to offer a service that significantly improves access and to do so through a company from Navarre is a source of pride for us.”

This system truly is something for CA Osasuna to be proud of. It is yet another reason why El Sadar is considered a state-of-the-art stadium, one where fans can more quickly and more easily get to their seats in time for kick-off.

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