Clear for beer: Biometrics provider now enables alcohol purchases at Seahawks and Mariners games

Clear, the biometrics company you’ve probably seen at airports and at a few other prominent queues, is rolling out the capability to simultaneously verify your ID and pay for an alcoholic drink with your fingerprint. It’s only at Seattle’s CenturyLink and Safeco Fields (and only a handful of concessions stands at those), but if it’s successful you can bet we’ll be seeing more of it.

That makes it the first time in the U.S. that biometrics are used for both age check and payment, but this exception will almost certainly become less uncommon in time: Clear announced its intention to pursue the payments side of biometrics when it raised $15 million last year.

This also marks the first NFL team to partner with Clear; Seahawks fans going to home games this season will be able to use a separate Clear lane at the northwest and southwest gates. It can be quite a melee or a considerable wait getting into both venues (I’m a local), so this will almost certainly be embraced by the Clear-privileged among Seattle sports fans. Sounders games at CenturyLink, by the way, will have the same perks, as will any concerts at either venue.

After you get inside the field, you’ll have to hoof it a bit to find one of the concession stands from which Clear serves. At Safeco it’s Double Play in section 136 and Shortstop Beer in 185. At CenturyLink it’s at the Delta Sky360 Club, by sections 210 and 234.

So, it’s not exactly everywhere. But during the beer rush of halftime or the seventh-inning stretch at a good ballgame, it might be worth it to traverse a few sections and skip the line. Unfortunately, Clear doesn’t get you a discount on the outrageously priced drinks, so savor those $10 tallboys. Your wallet may stay in your pocket, but the money flies out of it just the same.

It’s a bit remarkable to me that alcohol merchants are allowed to take anything but a state-issued ID or passport — but as at the airport, Clear has been given authority to track those IDs internally and verify their authenticity and the identity of the person. Obviously the company’s success there warmed the frozen hearts of our state’s Liquor Control Board and allowed this small divergence from the status quo.

There are still plenty of Mariners games at which to test this out, and the Seahawks preseason starts Thursday, at which time the Clear lane for entry and fingerprint-powered concessions will be available to all 12s. Assuming it goes well, we can expect it to show up at other major sports venues soon.