CLEAR Partners with MLB, Biometric Technology Coming to Ballpark Near You in ‘19

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CLEAR has signed a deal to become the official biometric identity and ticketing provider of Major League Baseball. The partnership, in conjunction with Tickets.com (MLB owned, primary ticketing partner for 23 teams), will give fans a “faster, more secure entry experience” by “eliminating the need to present a paper or mobile ticket.” Fans who link their CLEAR profile with their MLB.com account will be able to gain entry, pay for food/drinks and validate their age “with just the tap of a finger or, in the near future, facial recognition technology.” CLEAR technology will be implemented at select stadiums this summer, with broader roll-out (at parks that use CLEAR and Tickets.com technology) expected in ’19. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Howie Long-Short: Certified as a Qualified Anti-Terrorism Technology by the U.S. Department of Homeland, CLEAR made a name for itself in airports around the country before turning its attention to the sports world. Now the company has 13 professional sports partnerships including 9 with MLB teams (Braves, Rockies, Tigers, Marlins, Mets, Yankees, A’s, Giants and Mariners).

A privately held subsidiary of Alclear (acquired in ‘10 for $5.9 million), CLEAR has raised $35 million since October 2015. There are two ways to play the company, with both T. Rowe Price (TROW, led 2 rounds) and Delta Air Lines (DAL, led the 3rd round) having invested. TROW was the sole investor in the company’s most recent round ($15 million, closed in April 2017).

Speaking of TROW, the company reported that it brought in $11.3 billion in client cash in Q1 ’18 – the second-biggest quarterly haul in company history – increasing AUM by 2.3%. There’s a reason those that seek active-management want to invest with TROWAccording to Bloomberg, the company’s Growth Stock Fund has outperformed 93% of its rivals since 2012. Shares hit an all-time high in June ($127.43). The company is expected to report Q2 earnings tomorrow.

Fan Marino: The addition of CLEAR technology isn’t going to bring fans to the ballpark (attendance is down 10%), but it does remove one of the many pain points (see: parking, cost of concessions etc.) associated with attending a game. More NFL teams should look to implement CLEAR technology (only Raiders have it). According to Tempkin Group’s Fan Experience Benchmark, the NFL currently offers fans the worst game day experience among the 9 pro sports leagues considered.

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Wheels Up Pays “Seven Figures” for Exclusive Sponsorship On-Board Triple Crown Candidate Justify

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Wheels Up will be the sole corporate sponsor with its logo on Justify and jockey Mike Smith, as the undefeated chestnut colt attempts to become the 13th Triple Crown Winner – and just the second the last 40 years – at Belmont Park tomorrow. The member-based private aviation company has agreed to pay “seven-figures” to place its logo on Justify’s blanket and Smith’s pant leg, turtleneck and boots, in the 150thrunning of the Belmont Stakes. It’s the most ever paid for a single race sponsorship in horse racing history. Wheels Up was among the companies that sponsored American Pharoah, when the horse became the first Triple Crown winner in 37 years in 2015. Justify (and Smith) join an impressive “stable” (pun intended) of Wheels Up brand ambassadors, a list that includes Rickie Fowler, Tom Brady, J.J. Watt, Russell Wilson and Serena Williams.

Howie Long-Short: Joyce Julius & Associates determined that Monster Energy received $6.7 million in exposure value (think: TV, digital news, social) from its sponsorship of American Pharoah in 2015. Considering that Monster wasn’t the exclusive sponsor and that the brand didn’t have placement on Smith’s pant leg, “seven figures” sounds right.

Wheels Up remains privately-held, but there is one way to play the company: T. Rowe Price (TROW). The Maryland-based investment management company led Wheels Up’s $115 million round in September ’16 and co-led (with Fidelity Investments) a $117.5 million private equity round in October 2017. Wheels Up has raised $408.9 million over five funding rounds since December 2013.

For those wondering, there is a $1.5 million purse for the Belmont Stakes. The winner will take home $900,000, 2nd place gets $300,000 and 3rd place will earn $165,00. 4th and 5th place also receive prize money.

Fun Fact: The total purse for the inaugural Belmont Stakes in 1867 was $2,000.

As for TROW, the company reported that it brought in $11.3 billion in client cash in Q1 ’18 – the second-biggest quarterly haul in company history – increasing AUM by 2.3%. There’s a reason those that seek active-management want to invest with TROWAccording to Bloomberg, the company’s Growth Stock Fund has outperformed 93% of its rivals since 2012. Shares hit an all-time high on Wednesday ($127.43) and closed at $125.22 yesterday.

Fan Marino: Justify has been posted as the 4-5 morning line favorite (from the #1 post), but the undefeated colt won’t be running against a full field. The group that owns Justify (see below), also owns Audible (finished 3rd in Kentucky Derby); and the collective has decided to pull the top contender from the race as it chases horse racing immortality. It’s an easy decision to criticize, but one I’d have likely made myself. Should Justify win, no one will remember who didn’t run; had Audible won, horse racing fans would forever second guess why ownership allowed a stablemate to tarnish a shot at history. It’s worth noting that should Justify win, he would become the first undefeated horse to win the Belmont Stakes since Seattle Slew did it in ’77.

Justify is co-owned by Winstar Farm, the China Horse Club, Head of Plains Partner and Starlight Racing. The group has already sold Justify’s breeding rights for $60 million.

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MLB Teams Using Biometric Data to Enhance Fan Experience

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The Atlanta Braves, Oakland A’s and Seattle Mariners are the latest MLB teams to implement CLEAR’s “smart access pass”, a free membership service that offers fans expedited entry into the stadium (note: there is a $179 fee for their airport service). CLEAR technology uses biometric data (finger print, iris image etc.) to confirm an individual’s identity, speeding up the security process; with members funneled to express entrance lines. While currently known as a gate security company, CLEAR is pursuing a future where their platform uses a single biometric ID to power the entire in-stadium experience; from ticketing to alcohol and concession sales.

Howie Long-Short: CLEAR, said to be “building a connected world that’s smarter and more secure” through its biometric identity platform, services nearly 2 million members across 34 sports stadiums and airports nationwide. The company is certified as a Qualified Anti-Terrorism technology by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. A privately held subsidiary of Alclear (acquired in ‘10 for $5.9 million), CLEAR has raised $35 million since October 2015. There are two ways to play the privately held company, with both T. Rowe Price (TROW, led 2 rounds) and Delta Air Lines (DAL, led the 3rd round) having invested. TROW was the sole investor in the company’s most recent round ($15 million, closed in April 2017).

Fan Marino: 9 of the 30 MLB ballparks now offer CLEAR’s service. Yankee Stadium and Coors Field were first to implement the technology back in 2015. Marlins Park, Citi Field, AT&T Park and Comerica Park also offer CLEAR fast-entry lanes. American Airlines Arena in Miami is the 1st NBA building to provide the service. It’s should be noted that competitor TSA Pre✓(from IdentoGO By Idema, a subsidiary of the private equity firm Advent International), services Jets fans at Metlife Stadium and 49ers fans attending games at Levi’s Stadium.

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