NCS⁴ Gameday Security Magazine – Fall 2022

Page 1

The 14th annual National Sports Safety and Security Conference & Exhibition will take place June 27-29, 2023, at the JW Marriott San Antonio Hill Country Resort & Spa in San Antonio, Texas. The gathering of top safety and security professionals across multiple disciplines provides a versatile and intimate environment dedicated to innovative technologies, products, services and educational programming. Please mark your calendar and make plans to join us! Full conference details are coming soon, so keep an eye for the announcement via email and social media.

TARGET AUDIENCE Security directors and operators, facility and stadium managers, event planners/operators, law enforcement personnel, emergency managers, fire/HAZMAT, emergency medical/health services, athletic administrators and governmental representatives These are individuals representing or supporting: professional sports leagues, intercollegiate athletics, interscholastic athletics, marathon and endurance events, and sport and entertainment facilities (concerts, festivals, e-sports, convention centers, etc.).


ABOUT NCS4 NCS is the nation’s only academic center devoted to the study and practice of spectator sports safety and security. 4

MISSION🔗 We support the sports and entertainment industries through innovative research, training, and outreach programs. Our mission is realized by working closely with a diverse group of organizations and subject matter experts to better understand the threat environment, identify vulnerabilities, communicate risk-mitigation techniques, and close capability gaps.




5 6




A Note From the Executive Director, Dr. Stacey A. Hall


VISION🔗 We will be a leading partner with government, private sector, and sports and entertainment organizations to create and deliver critical resources for enhancing safety and security. The NCS4 collaborates with professional associations, government agencies, academic entities, and the private sector to develop critical resources and networking opportunities, such as the annual conference and forums, as well as best practices, guidelines, and technology solution whitepapers. The NCS4 also provides industry engagement opportunities through an international technology alliance, product review and operational exercise program, and exhibitor and sponsorship options at events.

National Center for Spectator Sports Safety and Security 118 College Drive #5193 | Hattiesburg, MS | 601-266-6183



Organizations are embedding meteorologists in their security programs to keep spectators, players and personnel safer than ever.


As recreational drone use increases, protecting the skies is an emerging priority for federal officials and venue operators.


How the revamped XFL is building — and plans to maintain — its new security infrastructure.


VENUE SECURITY DIRECTOR INSIGHTS The NCS4 recently published an industry report on professional sports venue security issues, emerging threats, and technology solutions.


A NOTE FROM THE EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR Dr. Stacey A. Hall GREETINGS, FELLOW SAFETY AND SECURITY PROFESSIONALS! We are excited to present our Fall edition of the Gameday Security magazine. The articles in this issue address severe weather preparedness, drone detection and mitigation, and building a security infrastructure for a new sports league. Severe weather can be a major concern for outdoor venues and events, and weather threats vary depending on geographic location. Planning for inclement weather includes having a written plan and leveraging other resources such as a meteorologist and predictive technologies. The recreational use of drones continues to rise, and drone intrusion incidents recently occurred at professional and collegiate sports events. The evolving legislation landscape and the mitigation strategies available to event organizers and venue operators are covered in this issue. As the XFL league plans its return in 2023, experienced professionals share their efforts to build and maintain the security infrastructure, including physical and cyber, and the importance of forming collaborative relationships with venue management staff. The NCS4 mission is to support the sports and entertainment industries through training and education, research, and outreach programs. Upfront, you will learn of the tremendous impact the NCS4 continues to have on the industry; however, I would like to share our progress on some items since the summer, including: • Annual Conference 2022 had the highest number of participants, exhibitors, and sponsors in 13 years. Mark your calendars for San Antonio in June 2023! • NCS4 Learn was successfully launched, offering three eLearning courses: Venue Staff Training, Crowd Manager Fundamentals, and a Senior Leader Course for Sports and Entertainment Security. • The INTERPOL-Project Stadia training program was completed in July 2022. • A new DHS/FEMA-funded Crowd Management course was released in September 2022 and is sold out, with 30 deliveries scheduled over the next several months. • We launched a new website and are excited about the new theme and structure. • The NCS4 Best Practices are now available online providing users easy access and quick navigation to general best practices and industry-specific best practices. • The first-ever venue security director industry research report was published addressing venue security issues, emerging threats, and technology solutions. • We are currently revamping our membership platform – NCS4 Connect, to offer more benefits and additional resources. • An eBrochure is now available highlighting the NCS4 programs and services, and we encourage our stakeholders to share it with other interested parties. • The 2022 Technology Alliance members included Axis Communications, Esri, Intel, Microsoft, NVIDIA, Patriot One Technologies, and S2 Global. • The NCS4 staff attended and/or presented at local, national, and international conferences, workshops, and academic classes. • Planning is complete for the forthcoming in-person forums: Marathon and Endurance Events (Dec 6-7, 2022) and Intercollegiate Athletics (Jan 17-18, 2023). It is the season for giving thanks, and the NCS4 team is grateful for our partnerships with professional associations, government agencies, and academic entities. We also appreciate the support of our membership base. The National Advisory Board and Advisory Committees continue to be a tremendous asset in helping shape our strategic priorities to meet the challenges and needs of our industry. The NCS4 team wishes you and your loved ones peace and happiness during the holiday season. l Kind Regards,

Stacey A. Hall, Ph.D. NCS4 Executive Director and Professor of Sport Management




NCS4 STAFF EXECUTIVE LEADERSHIP TEAM Dr. Stacey A. Hall Executive Director and Professor of Sport Management Lauren Cranford Director of Operations Daniel Ward Director of Training and Exercise

MANAGEMENT TEAM Brooke Graves Senior Training Manager Traci Johnson Instructional Design Specialist Sara Priebe Event and Membership Manager Jonathan Ruffin Training Manager

The NCS4 has launched a new eLearning platform, NCS4 LEARN, which provides opportunities for individuals and organizations to access asynchronous professional development opportunities. Current offerings include: • Venue Staff Training • Crowd Manager Fundamentals • Senior Leader Course: Sports and Entertainment Security Please visit the website or contact us at if you have any questions or would like to inquire about bulk registration. NCS4.USM.EDU/TRAINING


Tymika Rushing Business Affairs Manager Dr. Joslyn Zale Senior Research Associate and CSSP Manager

National Center for Spectator Sports Safety and Security




STUDENT ASSOCIATES Enzo F. Ferreira Graduate Assistant Aayush Gautam Web Developer Jonathan Stanford Graduate Assistant Natalie Williams Graduate Assistant

Click here or scan the QR code to Subscribe to News and Updates.




Organizations are embedding meteorologists in their security programs to keep spectators, players and personnel safer than ever. By Michael Popke

WEATHER HAS ALWAYS PLAYED A STARRING ROLE in outdoor sporting events, and in the wake of increasingly shifting and more volatile weather patterns, some venue and event operators are making major changes in how they track and prepare for storms. “The evidence is very clear that it is staying hotter longer and that rainfall rates have increased. And so the old way of thinking about sporting events — ingress, egress, parking lots, you name it — has to change,” says Kevin Kloesel, a meteorologist in the University of Oklahoma’s Department of Campus Safety and a faculty member in the College of Atmospheric and Geographic Sciences. “You need to have a comprehensive plan that includes all elements of game day, and not just from kickoff until the end of the game. You need weather support much earlier in the process in order to prepare for all of the things that the atmosphere is dishing out these days.” Kloesel is one of an increasing number of meteorologists around the country who are embedded in a campus security department. He keeps his eyes on the sky all week long in anticipation of how the weather could impact athletic events and other outdoor activities such as graduations. “My role is to advance notify everybody of weather risks in the days to week ahead of time — for all sports, all rehearsals, all practices and travel,” he explains, recalling the time he rerouted a charter flight for the OU women’s golf team from St. Louis to Kansas City, Mo., based on tornadic activity in the St. Louis area. “We bused the team to Kansas City, and as they were stepping onto the plane in Kansas City to fly home, the St. Louis airport was hit by a tornado. We keep safety primary, but we also keep the operation running.” Coinciding with increasingly challenging weather is the rise of incident meteorology, a growing need within the National Weather Service. “More and more, the National Weather Service is being called upon to provide incident-based meteorological support,” says Josh Durkee, a professor and university meteorologist at the G A ME DA Y S E C UR IT Y | F A L L 2 0 22


WEATHER ALERT University of Western Kentucky, whose students are involved in the long-range forecasting for events and applicable planning. “The National Weather Service hires or has designations in their offices for ‘incident mets.’ That’s a very specific role because you’re trying to customize a forecast in support of a customer’s needs — whether that’s a football game or a concert or a facility.” WKU’s student-centered and student-operated Disaster Science Operations Center (DSOC), which operated virtually during the pandemic and was expected to open its physical space in November, allows students to work with university staff and external specialists representing federal, state and local law enforcement, fire, EMS and emergency management, education, health care and more. Prescribed practice areas include critical weather-forward forecasting and both virtual and on-site decision support; situational awareness and intelligence gathering for rapidly developing events; and development and distribution of safety-focused public service messaging for television, radio and social media. In early October, a team of WKU meteorology students traveled north to the Chicago Marathon and used sophisticated weather instrumentation to capture specific data as it related to weather patterns in the area. Meanwhile, another group of WKU meteorology students at the DSOC facility ran a remote weather operations center in tandem with the on-site weather operations center in Chicago. WKU students have done similar work for Special Olympics at Disney World’s ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex and NASCAR events. “We’re training our students to be better meteorologists for the National Weather Service through these activities,” Durkee says. “Companies and major events are seeing how well we’re doing this at the university scale, and it’s giving us the opportunity to branch out.” Kloesel is engaged in similar work at OU. “I have transitioned my course offerings for our meteorology majors to help them understand weather support for events and weather support for emergency management,” he says. “So we now teach elective courses that are specifically designed to help meteorology students navigate the gameday experience.” Indeed, having a professional meteorologist as part of a campus security department — whether full-time or contracted — is becoming more vital. “I think that everybody knows somebody, locally, who is a meteorologist, whether that’s at a local university or a local TV station,” says Kloesel, who has taken the “evangelical approach” and shared what he is doing at OU with other universities including Georgia, North Carolina State and Duke. “There are meteorologists in every community out there, and they can provide a tremendous amount of support.” and rainfall rates have increased.

“It is staying hotter longer, And so the old way of thinking about sporting events — ingress, egress, parking lots, you name it — has to change.” KEVIN KLOESEL



That kind of shift takes time, though — and it might not be a feasible one for many venue and event operators. But a smartphone weather app isn’t the answer, either.


“It’s about knowing the difference between what’s rain, what’s severe weather and what could potentially give you lightning in a rainstorm.” MIKE RODRIGUEZ

PREDICTING AND DETECTING The level of severe weather preparedness and decision-making among venue and event operators is disparate, according to Kloesel, who adds that Major League Baseball placing the decision of whether to keep playing in the hands of an umpire is “woefully inadequate” — not only from a safety perspective but also because it compromises competition integrity. “Will an app tell you that it might start raining in 15 minutes? Yes. That is based entirely on an AI read of radar information, which still is pretty archaic in the grand scheme of things,” he says. “And even though the apps tell you it’s going to rain in 15 minutes or it’s going to stop raining in an hour and a half, if you chart those apps carefully, their accuracy is not that great.” Hurricanes, tornadoes, blizzards, excessive heat and earthquakes typically happen in certain regions of the country, but lightning is the one constant wherever you are. It is weather’s most dangerous and frequently encountered hazard, and it kills about 20 people in the United States every year, according to the National Weather Service. It also can be a telltale sign that severe weather is on the way.

That’s where such technologies as lightning prediction and lightning detection products come in. Lightning prediction systems like the ones produced by Thor Guard identify electrostatic energy conditions conducive to lightning activity and emit a warning, while lightning detection systems measure actual lightning strikes. The United States Tennis Association Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Queens, N.Y., which has a total of more than 30 outdoor courts and two covered tennis stadiums, has a meteorologist on staff and uses a customizable weather-monitoring technology called “If there is a lightning strike within eight miles, we will conduct an evacuation and get people to shelter,” says Mike Rodriguez, senior director of security for the USTA and the US Open Tennis Championships. “Luckily, we have two [covered] stadiums at the National Tennis Center, Arthur Ashe Stadium and Louis Armstrong Stadium.” The challenge is communicating to players, spectators, broadcast partners and others that cloud-to-cloud lightning “is not problematic,” according to Rodriguez. “It’s the cloud-to-ground lightning strikes that are dangerous. So we have

G A ME DA Y S E C UR IT Y | F A L L 2 0 22


REGISTER NOW TO SECURE YOUR SPOT – SPACE IS LIMITED. Objective: To address the key safety and security challenges facing marathon and endurance events and to share best practices for continuous improvement.

Who will be there: Event planners/operators, administrators and staff from marathons, halfmarathons, 10K, 5K, and endurance events, law enforcement personnel, emergency managers, fire/ HAZMAT, emergency medical/health services, city planners, governmental representatives, sports commissions, and invited Solution Partners.

MODERATED BREAKOUT DISCUSSIONS • Severe Weather • Crowd Dynamics/Management

• Emergency Communications • Pre-Event Planning


TO REGISTER, VISIT: NCS4.USM.EDU/MARATHON Full agenda online. Limited seating available.



“Predictive data and all of those technologies still require human context to interpret, digest and put it out there as meaningful information.” JOSH DURKEE

to make that distinction, and we monitor it all the time if we know we’re going to get rain. It’s about knowing the difference between what’s rain, what’s severe weather and what could potentially give you lightning in a rainstorm.” Rodriguez is helping spearhead a Severe Weather Planning Project with the National Center for Spectator Sports Safety and Security that would assist in those educational efforts.

‘NO SUCH THING AS A PERFECT WEATHER PREDICTION’ A broader understanding and acceptance of everything from why climate change is happening to how sophisticated meteorology tools work can help venue and event operators better develop safe and secure weather-related strategies. “Predictive data and all of those technologies still require human context to interpret, digest and put it out there as meaningful information,” Durkee says. “You have to look at the weather stations, the satellite, the radar — collect what’s really happening and compare that to your knowledge base. Then put all that in a mixing bowl and make a final determination about the situation. There’s no computer system that can really do all of that well, and that’s where we come in.” “I think monitoring is compulsory. And then, if you have the resources, you can get into the predictive. The more, the better,” Kloesel adds. “But there’s no such thing as a perfect weather prediction. So whenever you get into the predictive, you’re dealing with a large amount of uncertainty. We still have some of these archaic rules that require us to wait 30 minutes [after lightning stops to resume play], and they date back to when we didn’t have lightning-detection capabilities. A professional meteorologist can push weather planning into the future based on what we have at our disposal, rather than having to wait for an arbitrary one-size-fits-all time window.” A professional meteorologist also can convey the worst-case, best-case and most-likely weather scenarios during severe weather situations.

G A ME DA Y S E C UR IT Y | F A L L 2 0 22


WEATHER ALERT At a minimum, Kloesel recommends having a plan that leverages the resources available. “Make sure that you have specified shelter areas or whatever the case may be,” he says. “Again, this isn’t going to be one size fits all.” Beyond safety, a secondary factor driving the trend toward embedded meteorologists who can provide advanced warnings is fan experience. “Sporting events are competing for fans,” says David Oliver, WKU’s director of environmental health and safety/ emergency manager, who partners with Durkee to oversee the university’s Disaster Science Operations Center. “If we know we’re going to probably have a lightning delay, we can make an announcement to fans ahead of time, tell them to prepare for it and remind them of the actions to take. So we’re not just springing something on them at the last minute. We’re preparing them, and I think that’s key, too.” l


CROWD MANAGEMENT COURSES AVAILABLE THROUGH NCS4 • Online Crowd Safety Course with Dr. G. Keith Still • eLearning Course: Crowd Manager Fundamentals • DHS-FEMA Course: Crowd Management for Sport and Special Events MGT-475 VISIT NCS4.USM.EDU/TRAINING FOR DETAILS OR TO REGISTER.



National Emergency Response and Recovery Training Center


Building capabilities for multi-agency collaboration, intact teams are immersed in a collaborative environment incorporating basic concepts relative to planning, risk assessment, training, exercising plans, and recovery/ business continuity through scenario-based training modules.


Develops athletic department staffs, facility management personnel, campus public safety personnel, emergency response supervisors, and others involved in sports and special event management to better prepare for, manage, and recover from incidents that could occur during a sporting event or other special event.


Prepares venue operators, first responders, emergency managers, law enforcement, contractors, promoters, and owners to effectively collaborate on evacuation and protective action decision-making. The course provides flexible and scalable protective measures for planning, evacuation, and sheltering.


Prepares emergency responders as well as event management personnel, concessionaires, athletic department personnel, and chief executives who would be involved in the preparation for and response to a large-scale incident during sporting or special events.


Provides participants with tools and methodologies for conducting venue and event-specific risk assessments. In this course, participants will analyze risk and utilize assessment outputs to determine risk mitigation options and their effectiveness.


Prepares participants to identify and navigate the sport and special event communication landscape before, during, and after an incident. This interdisciplinary course brings planners, operators, communication, government, public safety, marketing, and public relations professionals together to prepare and/or enhance venue and event communication programs.


Introduces public safety officials, venue operators, event planners, and community stakeholders to key concepts and considerations for crowd management, control, and dynamics. The course content is scalable and applicable to all sports and special events regardless of venue size, capacity, or type of event.

NCS4.USM.EDU/TRAINING For more information about hosting or attending, contact the NCS4 Training Department at:





Custom made recognition items for your brand.

Order by NOV. 11 for Christmas delivery. Mention this ad for 20% MORE FREE on your order. Call for a FREE quote | Mike Story | (801) 689-8048 |


As recreational drone use increases, protecting the skies is an emerging priority for federal officials and venue operators. By Michael Popke ON THE FINAL WEEKEND OF SEPTEMBER, drones flying over Seattle stadiums halted football games between the University of Washington and Stanford University on Saturday night and the National Football League’s Seattle Seahawks and Atlanta Falcons on Sunday afternoon. Both stoppages occurred in the fourth quarter before officials at Husky Stadium and Lumen Field declared it safe to resume play.

“You never know what a drone is carrying — it could be a powder substance or a small bomb element — and you never know how people are going to react to it.”

Although nothing serious transpired, the incidents highlight the threat level recreational drones — sometimes referred to as unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) — represent to large open-air events like football and baseball games, concerts, marathons and auto races.

“You never know what a drone is carrying; it could be a powder substance or a small bomb element,” says Kevin Dooley, senior director of security and transportation for KEVIN DOOLEY Major League Baseball’s San Diego Padres and Petco Stadium. “And you never know how people are going to react to it. I’ve seen situations where people have attempted to throw something at a drone, but you don’t know what’s in that drone. If it’s hit, what’s going to happen? The worst-case scenario is that a drone is not being used for recreational purposes and is intended to cause harm.” In one of the highest-profile drone-over-stadium incidents, federal authorities in 2019 charged Tracy Michael Mapes with violating national defense airspace regulations when he piloted his recreational drone over Levi’s Stadium in San Francisco during a 2017 NFL game between the 49ers and the Seahawks. Police said his drone dropped anti-media leaflets on fans. “It was a little scary to see somebody actually release something in the air, even though it was only leaflets and didn’t pose a real threat to people,” says Jim Mercurio, executive vice president and general manager for Levi’s Stadium, who was in the venue that day. “But the problem with drones G A ME DA Y S E C UR IT Y | F A L L 2 0 22



is that you just don’t know. There are just so many opportunities for people to abuse these things.” Another problem lies with drone operators, according to Scott Parker, a branch chief in the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), which is an operational component of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

“There has been an uptick in both the number of careless operators knowing but not abiding by the rules and clueless operators not even understanding the rules.”

“There has been an uptick in both the number of careless operators knowing but not abiding by the rules and clueless operators not even understanding the rules,” he says. Federal SCOTT PARKER law requires all recreational drone flyers to pass an aeronautical knowledge and safety test — called The Recreational UAS Safety Test (TRUST) — for which they must provide proof of passing if asked by a law enforcement or Federal Aviation Administration official. Only about 50 percent of the drone operators registered as recreational users have been issued a TRUST certificate, according to Parker. “UAS operators don’t fully recognize that they’re operating in a national airspace,” he says. “They don’t take the time to really understand the rules and regulations, and why some of their actions could be reckless.”

Operating drones is prohibited by law within three nautical miles of stadiums that seat 30,000 or more people, beginning one hour before and ending one hour after the scheduled conclusion of MLB games; NFL games; NCAA Division I football games; and NASCAR Sprint Cup, Indy Car and Champ Series Race events. Estimates suggest that as many as 2,300 violations of those airspace restrictions occurred over open-air stadiums in 2021. Sports teams and operators of large-scale outdoor venues and events are limited in what drone detection technology they can use without violating federal laws, and those they are authorized to use cannot detect all drones active in the airspace, Parker notes. Which means venue operators will need either more authority or federal assistance to effectively identify noncompliant or threatening drones and their operators.

FEDERAL INVOLVEMENT Earlier this year, the Biden Administration released the first whole-of-government plan to address UAS threats via the Domestic Counter-Unmanned Aircraft Systems National Action Plan. As The White House noted in an April 25 statement, “the Administration is working to expand where we can protect against nefarious UAS activity, who is authorized to take action, and how it can be accomplished lawfully.” The Administration also called on Congress to enact a new legislative proposal “to expand the set of tools and actors who can protect against UAS by reauthorizing and expanding existing counter UAS authorities for the Departments of Homeland Security, Justice, Defense, State, as well as the Central Intelligence Agency and NASA in limited situations.” In July, Sen. Gary Peters (D-Mich.) introduced the Safeguarding the Homeland from the Threats Posed by Unmanned Aircraft Systems Act of 2022 (S.4687), which closely resembles the National



NATIONAL INTERCOLLEGIATE ATHLETICS SAFETY AND SECURITY FORUM January 17-18, 2023 Texas A&M Hotel and Conference Center College Station, TX

AGENDA AVAILABLE ONLINE – Register now to secure your spot! Objective: To address the key safety and security challenges facing intercollegiate athletic programs and to share best practices for continuous improvement.

Who will be there: Athletic administrators and staff from NCAA Division I, II, and III institutions,

athletic conference administrators, football bowl administrators, NCAA representatives, campus law enforcement, local and state law enforcement, facility managers, government officials, emergency managers, fire/HAZMAT, emergency medical services, city planners, governing bodies, sports commissions, and invited Solution Partners.

MODERATED BREAKOUT DISCUSSIONS • Severe Weather Planning • Crowd Dynamics/Management

• Communications • Staff Training

• Traffic Management • Facility Use







Action Plan. Then, in September, House Judiciary Committee Chair Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.) introduced the bipartisan CounterUAS Authority Extension and Transparency Enhancement Act of 2022 (H.R. 8949), which also includes a limited number of policy recommendations in the National Action Plan, albeit with a shorter timeframe than requested in the White House’s recommendations. “The ability of the private sector, and federal, state and local governments to mitigate the risk drones create depends on Congress enabling the Biden Administration’s Domestic CounterMercurio says, noting that laws prohibit drones from Unmanned Aircraft Systems National Action Plan and passing flying within five miles of the airport and that Levi’s bipartisan C-UAS legislation,” Secretary of Homeland Security Stadium is two-and-a-half miles from the airport. Alejandro Mayorkas wrote on in October. “Having that ordinance was helpful when prosecuting Ultimately, Parker — who is a recreational drone user himself and [Tracy Michael Mapes].” admits drones “are fun to fly” — would like to see legislation allowing critical infrastructure (which includes sports leagues) to purchase and operate detection-only technology that has been vetted by the DHS to be appropriate for domestic use and cybersecure. Such technology would comply with the National Action Plan’s authorized equipment list, he says. Legislation also could potentially increase the opportunity for operators of large venues to petition the DHS or DOJ to deploy counter-UAS systems the way they currently do for the Super Bowl and the World Series. Other developments could include implementation of a four-year pilot program allowing up to 60 local law enforcement agencies in certain jurisdictions to own and operate counter-UAS technology under the supervision of the DHS or DOJ. “For example, if the NYPD has the counter systems, they can be much more responsive in how they support, say, the New York City Marathon,” Parker says. “There would still be a lot of federal involvement to make sure everything is done in a way that is consistent with the processes we’ve learned over time. But you would have multiple entities able to do the same thing. So our ability to protect events would become exponentially greater than it is now.”



Some drone-detection systems also help pinpoint the location of the operator. In most cases, “it’s just somebody that has a cool new drone and wants to check out the stadium,” Mercurio says. “Maybe they know the rules, and maybe they don’t. Finding the operator is important so you can communicate with the operator.” In San Diego, Dooley utilizes members of the gameday camera crews and law enforcement on the ground to monitor the skies for drone activity, in addition to relying on drone-detection technology. “It’s interesting, each time a drone is flying above our space, to see who captures it quicker. Is it the technology? Or is it the human factor?” he says. “If it’s the human factor, is it the elevated human factor with our law enforcement officers or our frontline staff? Or is it a guest that tells us, ‘There’s a drone flying above us. Is everything okay?’” Dooley and his team log all drone sightings into an incident management system, and if a drone operator is cited for illegal flying, that information also will be tracked by a federal database, he says.

Venue operators aren’t solely relying on their own dronedetection systems while waiting for the federal government to legislate change. In many cities with professional and college sports teams, an all-hands-on-deck approach has emerged when it comes to drones.

Mercurio recommends operators of smaller venues concerned about drone activity consider working with local officials to develop no-fly ordinances in their communities. They also should create a response plan in the case of a drone interruption — just as security personnel would for any other incident.

“One of the first things we did [when the 49ers relocated to Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara in 2014] was establish a city ordinance creating a no-fly zone in partnership with the City of Santa Clara, the Santa Clara Police Department and the airport,”

“We have 3,200 people that work on game day for us, from food and beverage to security to the grounds crew to parking attendants and custodial staff, and every one of those folks has a responsibility to report



a drone — and to know how to report it,” Mercurio says. “I would suggest adding drones to your ‘see something, say something’ training.” “You have to build it into your advanced planning,” Dooley adds. “You have to work cohesively with your law enforcement units and your federal entities. If you do have a drone situation, you don’t want to be sitting there that day, figuring out how to respond to it.” As more local and federal entities work together to educate the public about drone regulations — and as legislators make drones an ever-greater priority — the key to success will be a combination of factors that includes effective communication and public education efforts. “The focus is on the safe and secure integration of drones into the airspace,” Parker says. “That’s the underlying theme that everyone can get behind.” l

Unauthorized drones are an immediate threat to your venue. SkySafe detects, identifies, tracks, and analyzes the drones in your airspace without the purchase of expensive equipment. Learn more at

“The focus is on the safe and secure integration of drones into the airspace. That’s the underlying theme that everyone can get behind.” SCOTT PARKER

Check out the NCS4 Best Practices online! You asked for it, and we answered…The NCS4 is excited to announce that our industry safety and security best practices are now available in an online format. Search for and find best practices at your fingertips – on gameday, in a meeting, wherever you need them. The NCS4 recognizes the need to help protect people, infrastructure, and information by sharing safety and security best practices. General best practices applicable to all types of venues and events are presented with the capability to navigate to industry-specific best practices, including professional sports and entertainment events, intercollegiate athletics, interscholastic athletics, and marathon and endurance events. Click here, scan the QR code, or visit our website to view the Best Practices online.



How the revamped XFL is building — and plans to maintain — its new security infrastructure. By Michael Popke THE XFL KICKS OFF ITS NEW SEASON February 18, 2023, under new ownership. Gone is original league owner Vince McMahon, replaced by an ownership group that includes Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and that is committed to moving the league beyond a disastrous, pandemic-shortened 2020 season. Rather than eight teams operating as separate entities in eight cities around the country (as was the case in 2020), the XFL’s 2023 football operations hub will be Arlington, Texas. All eight teams are owned by the league, and they will practice at four designated facilities in the Dallas-Fort Worth metropolitan area: Choctaw Stadium (also the home stadium for the XFL’s Arlington team), Northwest ISD Stadium, Dragon Stadium and Vernon Newsom Stadium. During the week, players will be housed at six local hotels, and daily meal service will be provided via local restaurants and caterers. Teams will travel to the cities they represent and play in such venues as Camping World Stadium in Orlando; the Alamodome in San Antonio; Lumen Field in Seattle; and Audi Field in Washington, D.C. As such, the XFL will partner with security officials at each of those eight facilities. “We’re going to rely heavily on those venues and the security experts in those venues to execute our gameday safety and security plan, but the league also is going to provide a set of best practices and security standards that we will hold those venues accountable to,” says Troy Brown, the XFL’s vice president of security and operations who joined the league in June after spending eight seasons with the National Football League’s Cleveland Browns, where he was responsible for day-to-day operations at FirstEnergy Stadium. “I know the venues, and I’m familiar with a lot of the staff working in those venues. I have great confidence in their abilities to execute what we need to do from a league perspective. We’ll give them guidance and support, and we’re going to build a collaborative relationship — because we all have the same goal. We all want to make sure fans, staff and players are safe at the highest level that we can provide.” Brown is part of a new XFL leadership team charged with reenergizing a league that filed for bankruptcy less than three years ago. G A ME DA Y S E C UR IT Y | F A L L 2 0 22


“We’re bringing new expertise to the XFL. We’re taking our experiences and enhancing security programs to make them even stronger.” TROY BROWN EDITORIAL CREDIT: ADAM MCCULLOUGH | SHUTTERSTOCK.COM

“We’re bringing new expertise to the XFL,” he says, adding that he will relocate to Arlington from January through May. “From a security infrastructure perspective, we definitely considered what former league leaders did, and there are plenty of things that we’re just going to duplicate because they were doing it the right way. We’re also taking our experiences and enhancing security programs to make them even stronger.” The XFL’s security programs will address such key components as venue safety, player safety and cybersecurity.

VENUE AND PLAYER SAFETY While XFL teams will travel to the cities they represent on game days, players will spend the majority of their time in the Arlington area — a new strategy for the league. The built-in advantage to this approach is that games will be played in venues with effective security protocols already in place. That includes everything from credentialing and fan screening to separating pedestrian and vehicle traffic to controlling access in such critical areas as the locker rooms and press box areas. “These are entertainment facilities, and they are run by people who have knowledge with regard to security and safety,” says John Petrone, founder and senior managing director of Petrone Risk, a Uniondale, N.Y.-based consulting firm that has worked with several professional sports leagues and is assisting in the development of the XFL’s security program. “They have followed best practices and developed standard operating procedures and emergency operating procedures in those facilities.” League officials are working with Petrone Risk to designate additional XFL best practices that can be adaptable to the programs currently in place at XFL-hosting stadiums.



While those best practices remain “a work in progress,” according to Petrone, plans call for coordinating strategies with the venues this fall and winter, conducting tabletop exercises with league and venue personnel, and eventually assessing security procedures with a league audit and then making necessary changes. “I want to give the venues enough time to make adjustments in their training programs or purchase any additional equipment if they need to,” Brown says of the timeline. “But I feel like the foundation is there; we’re just going to come in and solidify that they’re doing all those things we need them to do. We want to make sure that those venues are executing the plan.” That’s why collaboration and vigilance throughout the 2023 season and into the offseason will be critical. “I could spend a lot of time with the venue operators saying, ‘Here’s what I want you to do.’ But if I don’t go back and follow through to make sure everybody is doing it, then I’m negligent,” Brown says. “So auditing is going to be a really important part of the program that we’re putting together.” Additionally, each XFL team will be assigned a security director, trained by Brown and Petrone, who will be contracted to travel with players and work directly with venue operators on game day. Each XFL city also will have a local security representative who will be contracted by the league to meet midweek with venue security staff to review a gameday preparation checklist. “The team security person will be responsible for team safety and security, and the local security person will be responsible for venue security and ensuring best practices are being met,” Brown says, adding that he hopes to recruit active police officers in the Arlington area to fill those part-time roles.

SOLVING FOR ‘X’ CYBERSECURITY Scott Harniman is one of the few current XFL employees who also was with the league during its shortened 2020 season. In fact, he ran all corporate technology for teams in 2020. “From a cybersecurity infrastructure standpoint, the main difference between now and then is that in 2020 we actually opened 17 offices — so we had a league headquarters office, we had eight business offices for mostly ticketing and marketing, and we had eight practice facilities. Each of our teams had their own practice facility for football operations,” says Harniman, the XFL’s senior vice president of technology. “The dramatic shift is that now members of our business operations team are going to be working remotely.” That means the majority of cybersecurity measures in place for XFL operations now are cloud-based. Harniman selected a cybersecurity solutions provider that uses AIpowered prevention, detection, response, and hunting across endpoints, containers, cloud workloads and devices in a single Extended Detection and Response (XDR) platform. Some of the existing firewall protection

from the league’s previous iteration was kept in place, he says, and on game days the XFL will secure its technology networks with security appliances while leveraging the venue’s infrastructure as a service. Internally, the league has front-ended digital security with a single sign-on service that gives all employees a secure pathway with one user ID and password for all applications. That service also has two-factor authentication that sends push notices to simplify user verification. Ransomware, phishing and even smishing — which is phishing via text messages — also are among Harniman’s biggest security concerns. To that end, the XFL uses a cloud-based email management system to detect dangerous emails. But when something sneaks through, it will be crucial for league employees and players to know how to recognize fraudulent messages. Harniman plans to host formal training sessions to help better identify email and texting scams. “The overall goal is to balance best-in-class security tools with a smooth customer experience,” he says, summing up the XFL’s cybersecurity strategy. “Provide

SOLVING FOR ‘X’ the tools that the company needs to access, build and manage them in the cloud, and then make sure they’re secure. I think we have the measures in place to achieve that.”

‘A MOVING APPARATUS’ There’s no doubt Harniman, Brown and Petrone are excited for this latest evolution of the XFL, and they’re confident about the security program the league will have in place come Feb. 18. “I feel really good about where we’re EDITORIAL CREDIT: CHRISTOPHER LYZCEN | SHUTTERSTOCK.COM heading,” Brown says. “In the world of threat assessment, we don’t know what the next issue is going to be. We can only tackle what’s in front of us and then anticipate the best we can, so we’re building a program that limits vulnerabilities yet allows us to adjust and adapt as quickly as we can when things arise that we aren’t expecting.” Indeed, the protocols in place for the 2024 XFL season might look different than the ones established for 2023, and that’s the way it should be, according to Brown. “We’re constantly evolving,” he says. “The security program is going to be a moving apparatus that adjusts to whatever the threats or current challenges are.” l


Dynamic Security Signal Measurement Platform

Workforce & Operations Management Software • 15+ Customizable Modules to Choose From (Only Pay For What You Need) • Visitor, Vendor, and Pass Management • Dispatch and Incident Management with Full 360 Dashboard • Txt Commander (1 Flat Fee Per Year) • Lost and Found (Internal & Public Portal) • Staff Scheduling and Assignment Tools 50% of the cost for similar platforms. This cost includes the migration of your current data. Contact us for a free demo to learn more about how CSA360 can improve your security management.




VENUE SECURITY DIRECTOR INSIGHTS The NCS4 recently published an industry report on professional sports venue security issues, emerging threats, and technology solutions. THE SPORTING WORLD faces unique challenges when returning to play following a global pandemic, and many leagues, teams, and venues are exploring ways to maintain or improve their security operations. The purpose of this study was to explore professional sports venue security issues, emerging threats, and technology solutions. Information gleaned from this study will assist venue directors in policy development, increase awareness of technology solutions, identify resource needs, and address training gaps to help protect human, physical, and cyber assets.


Venue Securi ty Direc tor Survey Industry Report

The survey consisted of 48 questions related to venue demographics, staffing and training, fan behavior, technology utilization, patron screening, cybersecurity, and drone mitigation. The online survey was administered in April/May 2022 to venue security directors hosting professional sports teams from Major League Baseball, Major League Soccer, the National Basketball Association, the National Football League, and the National Hockey League. A webinar about the report was recently created and can be viewed on the website. Click here, scan the QR code, or visit our website to watch the video and view the full industry report. l G A ME DA Y S E C UR IT Y | F A L L 2 0 22



OVERVIEW Earning the Certified Sport Security Professional (CSSP) designation sets you apart from other professionals and highlights your dedication to remaining current with industry trends. Professionals in the sports security industry need to have a firm grasp of public safety measures and understand how to apply those measures in the unique environments created by sports venues and events. The CSSP certification validates expertise in the following domains: •Business and Facility Management •Emergency Planning •Emergency Management

•Legal and Regulatory •Crowd Management •Security Principles and Practice

The CSSP certification is awarded to individuals who meet experience, education, and professional reference criteria and pass an exam relevant to sports safety and security management. It is maintained through ongoing continuing education and industry contribution requirements every three years.

TARGET AUDIENCE •Venue/Event Security Directors/Managers •Venue/Event Operations Directors/Managers •Law Enforcement •Emergency Managers

•Private Security Practitioners •Fire/HAZMAT •EMS •Other Sports Safety and Security Leaders



•Expand security knowledge and experience •Strengthen relationships with peers •Broaden career opportunities •Demonstrate a commitment to professional development

• CSSP Application Process • Senior Leader Course: Sports and Entertainment Security •See the CSSP Candidate Handbook for eligibility, application, exam preparation, and recertification details.

The CSSP exam will be offered with no testing fee — a savings of $100 — at the 14th Annual National Sports Safety and Security Conference on June 27-29 in San Antonio, Texas. Review the requirements for certification and download the CSSP Candidate Handbook to review and prepare. The NCS4 also offers the online, self-paced Senior Leader Course: Sports and Entertainment Security. Please note that this course does not cover all of the exam content. Registration and acceptance are required in advance of the conference. Be on the lookout for more details. For more information, contact: