MLB stadium installs vending machines with portable iPhone chargers


Hoplite Power portable charger on iPhone
Hoplite Power now has vending machines with portable phone chargers in Citi Field, home of the New York Mets.
Photo: Hoplite

You’re at Citi Field watching the New York Mets struggle. To make matters worse, you can’t distract yourself with your iPhone because the battery’s dead.

Fortunately, the Mets this season can solve one of those problems. Citi Field installed vending machines that dispense mobile phone chargers for a fee cheaper than a beer sold at the ballpark.

The baseball organization contracted with Long Island-based Hoplite Power, which is part of a new space in the tech economy known as on-demand phone charging.

Phone charger vending machines for on-demand charging

Hoplite is among a small number of companies that provide portable chargers at restaurants, bars, coffee shops and other public venues. One of the largest, Miami-based Chargello, operates in 6,000 venues in 22 countries. Instead of vending machines, it provides nightclubs and other venues with a kit that has 10 batteries and charging cords.

Hoplight Power vending machine is like Red Box for renting portable smartphone chargers
Like Red Box but for renting portable smartphone chargers.
Photo: Hoplite Power

For now, Hoplite operates exclusively in New York City, with 15 different Red Box-like kiosks to rent and return portable chargers. A Hoplite charger is thinner than a deck of cards.

The Citi Field contract for five vending machines, or Hoplite Hubs, was a big coup for the tiny startup. The company is now in discussions with other teams and facilities across the country, CEO Jordan Mayerson told Cult of Mac in an email.

The Hoplite Hubs take all major credit cards, Apple Pay and Google Pay. A renter pays $4.99 for the day and can get a full charge in about 90 minutes. If a user forgets to return the charger, they can drop it any Hoplite Hub in the city.

Once returned, the hub automatically recharges the battery for the next renter. Each hub holds 48 chargers.

Large venues, such as ballparks, often offer public charging lockers. But the locker means leaving your phone and having to return to check the status of the charge. A portable battery lets you stay connected and allows you to arrange a pickup from Uber or Lyft and make restaurant reservations.

The number of fans at Citi Field renting Hoplite chargers has steadily risen since the five hubs were installed in May. By season’s end, the company expects to rent about 200 chargers each game.