NCS4 Gameday Security - Fall 2020 Issue

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With a smart venue, it’s game on. Some people say it’s just a game. We know better. This game brings strangers together, who connect through shared loyalties, passions and ambitions in a way made possible through stadiums and arenas that have been home to some of the greatest games ever played. Today, the sports and entertainment industry is embracing those connections…and using technology to enhance the experience. At Johnson Controls, we’ve helped venues around the globe think about sports and entertainment differently, creating safe, secure and connected environments. Looking at more than sight lines, seat width and the price of beer, we help venues converge technology to give fans and event-goers new, connected ways to share experiences. And we help venue operators grow new businesses, unlock new revenue streams, and capture operational efficiencies that positively impact the bottom line. This IS more than a game. It’s the future… of how we live, work and play.

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© 2020 Johnson Controls. All rights reserved.



NCS4 is the nation’s only academic center devoted to the study and practice of spectator sports safety and security. The NCS4 supports the advancement of sport safety and security through training and educational programs, research, and outreach activities. The NCS4 collaborates with professional sports leagues, intercollegiate and interscholastic athletics, marathon and endurance events, entertainment facilities, as well as professional associations, private sector firms, and government agencies. It is a critical resource for sport venue managers, event managers, first responders, and other key stakeholders.

National Center for Spectator Sports Safety and Security 118 College Drive #5193 | Hattiesburg, MS 601-266-6183 | NCS4.USM.EDU


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





Inside the NCS4 Task Force that created COVID-19 Considerations


16 Professional 20 College 23 High School









Technology Providers Adapt to Help Stadiums and Arenas Reopen Safely

Addressing Civil Unrest at Sporting Events

Inside NCS4’s First Virtual Conference

NCS4 Research Outlook


A NOTE FROM THE DIRECTOR Dr. Stacey A. Hall Greetings! First, I would like to express my gratitude to USM President Dr. Rodney Bennett and Vice President of Research, Dr. Gordon Cannon, for choosing me as the next leader of the NCS4. I assumed the role of Director after Dr. Lou Marciani’s well-earned retirement in March. I was the Associate Director from the Center’s inception until 2013, and I’m happy to be back. It has been a rollercoaster ride over the past several months, which was expected even without the COVID crisis causing havoc. Still, the NCS4 team worked hard towards our mission and to remain relevant during these challenging times. As we reach the end of an unforgettable year, the NCS4 team has much to be proud of as we look to 2021 and beyond. Since April, we have successfully restructured staff and organizational resources to better align with the three key pillars of our mission: Training and Education, Research, and Outreach. Our efforts in each area did not waiver as we strived to provide critical programming, solutions, and resources to the sport and entertainment industry as they prepare to resume operations. A ‘few’ of the accomplishments I would like to highlight: • Adapted three DHS/FEMA training courses to a virtual format • Worked with INTERPOL – Project Stadia Team to determine training schedule for 2021 • Established a new online education and technology webinar series (2700+ participants) • Completed several product reviews and operational exercises • Administered the first venue safety and security survey in the United States • Developed a COVID-19 Considerations guide with the help of a national task force • Hosted an annual virtual conference with over 400 attendees • Scheduled four industry-specific forums (included practitioners and academics in the sessions) • Published a Research Impacts Practice special edition newsletter • Secured three new Technology Alliance members • Finalized a new website transition The NCS4 is fortunate to have an active National Advisory Board and specialized Advisory Committees that guided much of our work this past year and helped shape our future strategic priorities. We have an exciting new year around the corner. The NCS4 will be releasing new programs and formalizing partnerships with reputable associations, corporations, and academics across the world. Be on the look-out for our e-newsletters, including special editions and social media messaging in the coming months. Also, I encourage you to check out our new website at NCS4.USM.EDU. I hope you enjoy this issue of Gameday Security magazine. Upfront, you will learn of the tremendous impact the NCS4 has had on the industry. The articles chosen for this issue address many of the ongoing concerns the sports and entertainment community is wrestling with at this time. We hope you learn about new ideas, innovations, and technology solutions as we pave The Way Forward. The NCS4 team wishes you and your loved ones peace and happiness during the holiday season. Thank you for your support, and stay safe! l

Dr. Stacey A. Hall Director of NCS4 and Professor of Sport Management


MANAGEMENT TEAM William Adams Training Manager Michael Finley Curriculum Manager Brooke Graves Training Manager

Dr. Stacey A. Hall Director


Sonny Mattera Web Developer Jacob Neal Training Manager Sara Priebe Event and Membership Manager Tymika Rushing Business Affairs

Daniel Ward Director of Training & Exercise

Dr. Justin Kurland Director of Research

Lauren Cranford Director of Operations


Michelle Stringfellow Instructional Design Dr. Joslyn Zale Research Associate

STUDENT ASSOCIATES Olivia Hay Graduate Assistant Tyler Jacobs Graduate Assistant Andrew Jakab Volunteer Ryan Kavanaugh Practicum Student All pictured from left to right. Front: Daniel Ward, Dr. Justin Kurland, Dr. Stacey Hall, Lauren Cranford, and Michelle Stringfellow. Back: Tymika Rushing, Dr. Joslyn Zale, Tyler Jacobs, Andrew Jakab, Michael Finley, Ryan Kavanaugh, Brooke Graves, Will Adams, Olivia Hay, Jacob Neal, and Sara Priebe. Not pictured: Sonny Mattera and Gabrielle Napier.

Gabrielle Napier Volunteer G A ME DA Y S E C UR IT Y | F A L L 2 0 20




Brian Finch

Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP

Scott Breor

Gary Gardner

Department of Homeland Security


Andrea Cunningham

Tim Gutierrez

The Walt Disney Company

Federal Bureau of Investigation

Scott Dunn

Carol Haave

Axis Communications

Live Nation Entertainment

William Evans

Mike Harnett

Boston College

Richard Fenton Ilitch Holdings, Inc.

Ilitch Holdings Inc.

Elliot Hopkins

National Federation of State High Schools Association

Michael Hughes

INTERPOL Washington

Eric Janssen

Linda Reid

Walt Disney World

Russ Simons

Intellitix Technologies, Inc., Xlive

Venue Solutions Group

Cathy Lanier

Barry Stanford

National Football League

Joe Lewis

AEG Worldwide

Paul Turner

Joe Lewis Company

AT&T Stadium, Dallas Cowboys

Jim Mercurio

Eddie Washington

San Francisco 49ers

Larry Naifeh

University of Oklahoma

University of Michigan

Brian Young

Johnson Controls, Inc.


Pacers Sports & Entertainment

Mike Bates

Mario Coutinho Toronto Blue Jays

Sal DeAngelis

Darren Johnson Detroit Lions

Ben Kinsey

Alana Penza


Philadelphia Phillies

Steve Beres

Danny DeLorenzi MetLife Stadium

National Football League

David Born

Richard Fenton

Todd Letcher Yankee Stadium

New York Giants

Kevin Henry

Andrew Maxwell

Barry Stanford

Brian Herbert

John McKay New York Mets

AT&T Stadium/Dallas Cowboys

Jim Hosfelt

Toby McSwain

Ben Williams

Daytona International Speedway Security Consultant

Troy Brown

Cleveland Browns

Vernon Conaway

Maryland Stadium Authority

Joe Coomer

Mercedes-Benz Stadium

Ilitch Holdings, Inc. Pocono Raceway

Golden State Warriors Dover International Speedway

Federal Bureau of Investigation

Angie Nix

San Fransisco 49ers

Billy Lagenstein

Sporting Kansas City

Sea Pines

Federal Bureau of Investigation

Russ Simons

Venue Solutions Group

Bill Squires

AEG Worldwide

Paul Turner

Houston Astros

ENTERTAINMENT FACILITIES Andrea Cunningham The Walt Disney Company

George Cunningham Rose Bowl Stadium

Steve Georgas

Chicago Police Department (Ret.)



Carol Haave

Live Nation Entertainment

Mike Harnett

Ilitch Holdings, Inc.

Jeff Keas

Tim Smith

Joe Lewis

Barry Stanford


Joe Lewis Company

Joseph Scheper McCormick Place

C3 Presents

AEG Worldwide


Matt Davidson

University of Texas

University of Nebraska

Jeff Bacon

Scott Dickson

Mid-American Conference

The Ohio State University

Jamie Breslin

Matt Elliott

Stanford University

University of Alabama

Andrew Burchfield

James Entwistle

University of Michigan

Rochester Institute of Technology

Ryan Cakerice

Evan Feinglass

Duke University

University of Connecticut

Sharon Cessna

Cass Ferguson


Atlantic 10 Conference

Brian Cordill

Mike Gregory

Kansas State University

University of Tennessee

Lee Harris

David Oliver

University of California, Berkley

David Hensgen

Western Kentucky University

Hatcher Parnell

University of Texas, El Paso

University of Southern California

Orville Jennings

Drew Pittman

University of Colorado

Baylor University

Keith Kopinski

Nicholas Scull

University of Notre Dame

Georgia Southern University

Keri Luchowski

Jeff Steele

North Coast Athletic Conference

Auburn University

Jason Meisner

Jeffery Stoll

Colorado State University

Grand Valley State University

Joe Monroe

Jason Weaving

University of Kentucky

Boise State University


Guy Grace

Maryville Police Department

Littleton Public Schools

Amy Benton-Skeens

Dale Hackbarth

Carmel High School

St. Marks School of Texas

Brett Coulter

Jay Hackett

Maryville City Schools

Milton Academy

Randy Councell

Elliot Hopkins

Cherry Creek Schools

Lamont Dodson

Cleveland Metropolitan School District

Larry Johnson

Thornton Academy

Steve Krukowski

Craig Straw

Nassau County Police Department

Arthur O’Neal

Lonnie Tillman

Mississippi High School Association

Kenna Powell

AndrĂŠ Walker

Providence Day School

Jim Inskeep

Katy School District

Wayne Folkes

Texas City ISD

Saginaw Public Schools

National Federation of State High School Associations Carmel High School

Gary Stevens

Grand Rapids Public Schools

Houston ISD

Ben Rolens

William Watson

Urbandale Community School District

Jack Sample

Nettleton School District

Lamar County School District

MARATHON AND ENDURANCE EVENTS Virginia Brophy Achman Twin Cities In Motion

George Banker Army Ten Miler

John Bertsch

IRONMAN World Championship

Christine Bowen Running USA

Tim Burkett

Louisville Metro Police

Stacy Embretson

The McCourt Foundation

Eddie Grant

City of Savannah

Mark Klukow

Patrice Matamoros Pittsburgh Marathon

Ted Metellus

New York Road Runners

Todd Metro

Minneapolis Police

New York Road Runners

Shawn Krizaj

Wade Morehead

Duluth Fire Department

Ken Kuebler

Columbus Police Department

Houston Marathon

P.Z. Pearce

Championship Sports Medicine

Bill Roberts

Twin Cities In Motion

Ed Trapp

Pittsburgh Police

Stuart Wall

Boston Athletic Association

Mike Nishi

Chicago Event Management G A ME DA Y S E C UR IT Y | F A L L 2 0 20





Inside the NCS4 task force that helped create a COVID-19 considerations document to guide event and venue managers safely through pandemic-unique challenges ON DECEMBER 31, 2019, while billions were celebrating the end of the year and looking forward to the ‘Roaring Twenties,’ an ominous warning was being issued by the Wuhan Municipal Health Commission in China. It shared that there had been an outbreak of pneumonia in Wuhan, China, now known worldwide as the novel coronavirus, or COVID-19. Less than one month later, the first case of COVID-19 was reported in the U.S. By late November 2020, the number of cases had increased to 62 million globally and 13 million in the U.S., approximately four million more than the next closest country, India. The threat and spread of COVID-19 has changed virtually every aspect of daily life, and the sports and entertainment industry is no exception. Events were postponed or canceled in the spring with sports returning in the late summer or early fall looking significantly different – in the case of the major indoor sports leagues, the NBA and NHL, that meant finishing their respective seasons with no fans while playing in a “bubble.” NCS4 took a leadership role in the safe return of sports during COVID-19, assembling a task force comprised of sport, entertainment, and sports-medicine industry professionals to develop a guide of considerations to help venue and event owners and operators protect patrons, staff and key stakeholders during COVID-19. That group included Steve Georgas, retired Deputy Chief of Police for the Chicago Police Department; Jim Mercurio, Executive Vice President and General Manager of Levi’s Stadium for the San Francisco 49ers; Joe Monroe, Chief of Police at the University of Kentucky; and Dr. George Chiampas, Head of Emergency and Sports Medicine at Northwestern University. Gameday Security recently sat down with each one to discuss their roles in helping create the NCS4 COVID-19 Considerations document that is being adopted by venue and event managers across the country, as well as discuss the past, present and future of sports safety and security.

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UP TO THE TASK COME TOGETHER, RIGHT NOW For Dr. Chiampas and Steve Georgas, coming together to collaborate on safety and security best practices was nothing new for the Chicago duo. For many years, they worked together on the Chicago Marathon, implementing a unified command approach into the command structure more than a decade ago. Their expertise and shared commitment to safety and security has been utilized by NCS4 for years, and when NCS4 reached out about this task force, they were both ready to answer the call.

“NCS4 is a leader in the industry and such a great resource. It was a no-brainer to jump in and try to help.” STEVE GEORGAS

“NCS4 is a leader in the industry and such a great resource. It was a no-brainer to jump in and try to help,” says Georgas. For Dr. Chiampas, he brings a unique perspective, previously serving as the Chief Medical Officer for U.S. Soccer, in addition to working with the NHL, NBA, and the NCAA as part of his current duties for Northwestern. “As someone who has touched a lot of different areas in sports organizations along with expertise from the medical side, it was really important to bring all of that to NCS4 and this group,” shares Dr. Chiampas.

For Jim Mercurio, that expertise goes back to 1994 when he started working in a full-time stadium operations role for the 49ers. He worked his way up to his current leadership role, and has been one of the central figures in ensuring a safe experience for fans for three decades. During that period, Mercurio has developed a special appreciation for organizations like NCS4.





“I have been a champion of the NCS4 for a number of reasons. I believe in its cause, and I believe in its mission,” says Mercurio. “The NCS4 gave us an opportunity to not only reach other folks throughout the country, but it also gave us an opportunity to train and promote growth within our own company by utilizing some of the techniques from NCS4.” Levi’s Stadium

Moving from the Golden State to the Bluegrass State as the Chief of Police at the University of Kentucky, Joe Monroe has an extensive reach across the sports spectrum, and has been a key part of NCS4 for many years. His role in the COVID-19 Considerations process was chairing a subcommittee of law enforcement, intercollegiate and professional leaders, focusing on spectators and guests. Editorial credit: Lebid Volodymyr /

“Our focus was on how things would change for spectators and guests – everything from tailgating to concessions,” Monroe shares. All aspects of operations management were up for evaluation, he says, starting with the moment fans arrive at a venue or event.

PRE-EVENT Prior to the pandemic, security challenges were more traditional for event managers. Terrorist concerns, such as vehicular attacks or active shooters, code of conduct behavioral issues, as well as weather-related concerns dominated security professionals’ checklists for many years. But when the pandemic began to spread across the U.S., many of those checklists were put away as the immediate future of all sports was unknown. Some questioned if there would even be sports as COVID-19 rapidly spread throughout the country. Mercurio, however was not one of them. “I was pretty optimistic that there would be an NFL season but that it would be significantly different,” says Mercurio. After watching basketball, baseball and hockey, his confidence grew that the NFL could make things work too. “As we started to develop plans, we felt that there was a way we could protect the integrity and the safety and security of our employees and players. A comfort level started to grow that this is a temporary setback and something that we can learn to live with, and hopefully at some point in time, overcome.” Those plans included the work of the NCS4 COVID-19 Task Force. According to Georgas, the first step was to define the pillars: participants; spectators, customers and guests; staff and venue. And then those pillars were broken up into two categories, pre-event and event. From there, the leaders of the task force – Georgas, Baylor University’s Drew Pittman, and Michael Finley, Curriculum Manager for NCS4, turned their experts loose. “After defining the pillars and categories, we tapped into the talented and dedicated personnel out there that are committed to safety and security through NCS4, and then let the groups go and do what they do best,” Georgas says. For Dr. Chiampas, that meant going through existing protocols and guides to see how those could be adapted to meet these modern challenges. “The first thing was that we recognized there were quite a few protocols and manuals out there. What we wanted to do was create a checklist that is practical, that individuals can use and implement in a really efficient way. That was our big goal in all of this,” Dr. Chiampas shares.

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UP TO THE TASK In the pre-event stage, the task force examined things like arrival considerations, which involves everything from parking and tailgating to pedestrian flow and prescreening. But everything was evaluated under one rule: do not sacrifice one area to supplement another. “Yes, it’s absolutely critical that we get the pandemic rules and regulations that have been developed in place and appropriately managed, Editorial credit: Susan M. Hall / but do not forget about all the other things that go University of Kentucky’s Commonwealth Stadium along with maintaining the event,” Mercurio warns. “Don’t put on the blinds and just do everything COVID, because you’ll wind up short somewhere.” “When we looked at putting together a guide, we were determined not to compromise one area to address another, because that’s when you leave an area exposed,” adds Dr. Chiampas. In prescreening, for example, the task force weighed how social distancing would work. “You’re relying on personnel to do screening measures, and those screening measures sometimes require an inability to maintain social distancing,” Dr. Chiampas adds. “You have to consider if there are other ways that you can ensure that screening mechanism with COVID, such as using technologies, so you are not compromising that security aspect.” Pre-event changes also had to be considered for the players. The San Francisco 49ers, for example, modified its locker rooms to be COVID friendly. This included putting plexiglass between lockers and extending those out as an extra barrier. When Levi’s Stadium was designed and built, it had filtration systems in the locker room, an ingenious addition that would play a critical role in ensuring athlete health during the pandemic. In addition to adding social distancing and adding additional locker room spaces throughout the facility, the 49ers also enhanced its hand cleaning and disinfecting protocols, bringing in UV lighting and placing rolling carts of UV light to kill any potential bacteria on a micro level. This is done in the press box, suites, working booths, restrooms, clubs and locker rooms, providing an additional layer of enhanced cleaning and disinfecting. The benefit to going that extra mile is three-fold, according to Mercurio. “One, you’re making sure if someone does make a mistake, you’re getting it wiped down. Two, it shows a commitment to staff, players, coaches and employees that you are doing anything and everything to make sure that the space is safe. And three, communicating that out to our customers so they understand all the different techniques we’re using to ensure the building’s clean and disinfected and sterile, so people feel safe and are safe,” he shares.

Chicago Marathon


Editorial credit: Max Herman /



Virginia Brophy Achman Twin Cities In Motion

Stephen Beres

Daytona International Speedway

Lance Carter Katy ISD

George Chiampas

Chicago Marathon, US Soccer, Chicago Police Department

Derek Doolittle UCLA

Michael Finley

Steve Georgas

Chicago Police Department (Ret.)

Jim Hosfelt

Dover International Speedway

Mark Klukow

Minneapolis Police Department

Billy Langenstein

National Football League

Melissa Lesperance

Todd Metro

Kenna Powell

New York Road Runners

Providence Day School

Joe Monroe

Mark Robertson

University of Kentucky

University of Nebraska, Lincoln

Mike Nishi

Olympia Entertainment

Angie Nix

Tim Smith

San Francisco 49ers

Daniel Noeker

C3 Presents

Ilitch Holdings, Inc.

New York Racing Association

Toby McSwain

Drew Pittman

Sea Pines Resort

Megan Sargent

Chicago Event Management

Baylor University

NCS4 Task Force Manager

Daniel Spencer

Pennsylvania State University

Chris Troyanos

International Institute for Race Medicine

THE MAIN EVENT Once inside, the task force discussed the non-traditional changes to traditional stadium fixtures. This meant reexamining common areas and concessions and deliveries, discussing how the facility cleaning process must evolve during an event, as well as designing specific flow patterns for ingress and egress. For Dr. Chiampas, that also extends to emergency medical personnel. “Another example from my side is the EMS associated with the stadium, making sure they are prepared to not only address an acute medical emergency but that they are able to address a COVID circumstance as well,” he shares. In alignment with CDC and other health recommendations, sports venue and event operators must not only make sure that they have the appropriate safety protocols in place, but that they are enforcing them as well. Monroe encourages facility managers to ask themselves the following: “How are you making masks mandatory? Are you really creating social distancing? Are you making sure that seating is designed so people don’t have to cross in front or sit near each other? I think that’s a vital component,” says Monroe. The other part is removing touch points where safely possible, and then making sure any and every touch point is being cleaned on a consistent basis. “Focus on what we can do better to reduce those touch points to help prevent the transmission,” Monroe adds. After pre-event and event planning comes education and training; that not only applies to event and venue personnel, but educating the public as well on the policies and procedures they must adhere to once they arrive at an event. “Most importantly, train, train, and train,” says Georgas.

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REDEFINING NORMAL The NCS4 COVID-19 Task Force first convened in early May, and the process temporarily concluded over the summer. Its conclusion is only temporary because, like all aspects of safety and security, nothing is ever set in stone. “You need to be nimble and able to pivot very quickly,” says Mercurio. The NCS4 COVID-19 Considerations guide reflects that same resiliency and, like all recommendations implemented across sports and event management, will be adapted as necessary.

Dr. Chiampas warns that normalcy is still a couple years away. “I do think we will be dealing with elements of COVID or the indirect effects of COVID, for the next 18 to 36 months,” Dr. Chiampas shares. “We’ll see various models of return based on where we are in the United States and in the world, and there are various models that the sports and entertainment industry will have to adapt to over the next 12 to 24 months.”

“This is an ever-changing, evolving document,” explains Monroe. “Just like our best practices that we do at NCS4, it’s a continually evolving process. Things change.”

Fortunately for the sports and entertainment industry, there is a COVID-19 Considerations guide, created by some of the best and brightest minds in the sports security industry, ready to help venue and event managers provide the highest level of safety, regardless of “normal.”

While a vaccine is on the horizon and would play a significant role in a return to normalcy,

To download the NCS4 COVID-19 Considerations guide, click here. l



THE NCS4 IS OFFERING three safety and security courses in a live virtual format. Each DHS/FEMAfunded course has been converted from the original in-person format into a virtual one in order to adapt to the challenges resulting from the pandemic and meet current training needs. • AWR-167: Sport Event Risk Management • MGT-412: Sport Venue Evacuation and Protective Actions • MGT-466: Sport and Special Event Enhanced Risk Management and Assessment If you are interested in attending or hosting a virtual training, please email These courses represent a cooperative effort between The University of Southern Mississippi’s National Center for Spectator Sports Safety and Security (USM/NCS4) and the Texas A&M Engineering Extension Service’s National Emergency Response and Recovery Training Center (TEEX/NERRTC), a member of the Texas A&M University System.


Crowds will be more vulnerable than ever when they come back, and they will be back…




The time to plan against vehicle attacks is now.

Call me, I can help! 334.603.8812

Chris Truss, PSP

Business Development Manager © 2020 Overwatch Systems, Ltd.

REOPENING SPOTLIGHT: PROFESSIONAL Jody Young, the Edmonton Oilers, and the NHL pulled off an 80-day tournament in a bubble with zero positive COVID-19 tests. Here’s how everything came together.

SINCE JODY YOUNG JOINED THE EDMONTON OILERS as a Client Services Representative in 2006, he’s been focused on people, something he has carried over to his current role as the Vice President of Fan Experience and Security for the five-time Stanley Cup champions. Prior to the pandemic, Young was thinking about maintaining a safe, clean venue. Magnetometers, secondary search wands and physical bag checks upon entry were all a part of Young’s game day checklist, but all that changed on March 11, 2020. That date signaled the temporary end of the NHL season after Utah Jazz player, Rudy Gobert, tested positive for COVID-19. Young found out the season had been put on hold when he woke up, but it was a decision he expected and supported. “The way things were going, it was expected. We had very few COVID cases in the Edmonton area, but based on what was happening in a number of cities around North, it was the right decision to keep the public safe,” Young shares. Not knowing how long the pause would last, Young and the Oilers continued planning for the remainder of the season, not knowing when the NHL would “push play” on the season. Little did anyone know, when the NHL would push play, it would involve a lot more players and teams coming Young’s way — and no fans. Fast forward one month to April 21, 2020. Edmonton Oilers Senior Vice President and General Manager of Rogers Place Stu Ballantyne called Young in to discuss a “special project.” That initial meeting turned into the duo working on a proposal to the NHL to host games in Edmonton. At the time, the scenario being considered was four host cities with eight teams per hub. That then became a two-city, 12-teams-per-city scenario. From April through July, Young and the Oilers worked directly with the NHL on potentially hosting games in Edmonton. “The focus was primarily on safety of the participants and staff, including partnering hotels and fitness facilities,” says Young. “Secondary focus was on hospitality, the desire to host a safe and secure


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REOPENING: PROFESSIONAL tournament while providing everyone with an enjoyable experience knowing the limitations we were planning to impose in the bubble environment.” On July 10, it was announced that Edmonton and Toronto would be the two host cities for the 2020 NHL Stanley Cup playoffs. Teams began arriving approximately one week following the announcement. “My first reaction was both excitement and relief – excitement because we were about to embark on an 80-day tournament in a totally secure environment,” Young admits. “Relief that we would be able to provide some of our part-time staff with paid employment in the midst of a pandemic, and relief because all the work that went in to our proposal and subsequent meetings and plans were now coming to fruition.” From July 10 to July 26, Young shares that many people worked 16-18 hour days to get the building ready. That preparation included preparing for teams, building lounges and locker rooms, preparing hospitality experiences, setting up bubble fence lines, flying the in-arena video screens, installing the ice, preparing for new security and compliance protocols, and of course, lots of cleaning. “While there was a lot at stake for us to produce a successful tournament, the NHL and their partners came in with a very well-thought-out plan. The roadmap they designed from training camp through the operation of the tournament gave us, as venue operators, an excellent starting point to building security and compliance plans,” says Young. “That definitely relieved some pressure, providing us the opportunity to focus on what we do best.” Young attributes part of the success of the bubble experience to limiting the number of people in the bubble to those in essential venue operations roles, but it was certainly not without its challenges. In particular, in order to produce a successful tournament in an 80-day bubble environment, he needed the support of the local community. “We needed the citizens of Edmonton, our venue staff and teammates, the four participating hotels and their staff, Jody Young inside Rogers Place, home of the NHL’s Edmonton Oilers partnering restaurants, fitness centers and practice facilities, local governing bodies, vendors and service providers all singing from the same song sheet,” Young explains. “Everyone had to agree to and abide by the fundamentally new protocols that were in place, day in and day out, for the entirety of the event. The thought of orchestrating all of that was challenging in itself, let alone the act of walking the walk.” But Young and the NHL pulled off something many thought wouldn’t be possible – zero positive tests within the bubble and a tournament that was universally praised by teams and fans alike. “For anyone looking to produce sports and entertainment in a bubble environment, you must ensure you have a third-party stakeholder in place to enforce the compliance aspect of the protocols and take time to review everything you do under normal operations and reassess it against the current situation with no fans,” says Young. G A ME DA Y S E C UR IT Y | F A L L 2 0 20



“Instead of securing our arena with 18,500 fans, we took the time to rethink everything we do from a security perspective and reapply similar but different procedures in a bubble environment that had only operations teams and players.” JODY YOUNG

The presence of a third-party advisor is important as this party acts objectively in ensuring compliance to protocols, including wearing masks, staying physically distant, getting tested every day, and ensuring a clean and sanitized work space. But how does security with no fans work? “Instead of securing our arena with 18,500 fans, we took the time to rethink everything we do from a security perspective and reapply similar but different procedures in a bubble environment that had only operations teams and players,” Young shares. “We really needed to look at our entire operation and ask ourselves what made sense in this new environment. A lot of what we do on a normal basis is about protecting our fans and providing them a safe and enjoyable experience.” While Young is grateful to have had the unique bubble experience, like all venue operators, he is anxious to see facilities fully reopening with fans. That day will come, but the question is the when and the how. “Any measures that we implement will follow local health authority guidelines at the specific time that we are returning, and of course that will be dependent on how we are returning,” says Young. “Are we reopening to a full venue or are we opening at a lower capacity, maintaining physical distancing?” “We’ve all been inundated with offered technology and services trying to sell us the solution or a piece of the solution, but before we commit to anything, we must ensure that anything we do differently isn’t being deployed simply for optics, but that it fits into our longterm goal of the venue,” Young adds. “Simply put, we must avoid processes for the sake of theater and instead focus on the efficacy of such technology, service, or procedure that is being implemented.” l


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INDUSTRY FORUMS The NCS4 hosts annual forums across the United States to address the key critical safety and security challenges facing industry professionals in their specific fields. However, all of the forums scheduled in 2020/2021 will be held in a live virtual format due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The NCS4 recognizes the inherent need for providing effective safety and security measures for various types of sports and entertainment events. Venue and event management professionals face an ever-changing environment and unique challenges in implementing safety and security best practices. These forums bring professionals together to discuss industry-specific issues, challenges, lessons learned, and strategies to improve their safety and security posture.

Small group discussions will take attendees through a deep-dive examination of specific topics relevant to their particular segment of the industry, and workshopstyle sessions will focus on problem-solving, lessons learned, and moving forward. Register as a new member of NCS4’s Connect membership program prior to the deadline, and you will receive a free registration to the forum. A discount is also offered for current Connect members. For additional details or to register, click here.


January 26-27, 2021


February 16-17, 2021


March 9-10, 2021

Editorial credit: davisdeatonphotography /

REOPENING SPOTLIGHT: COLLEGE How Drew Pittman and the Baylor Bears adapted to the new normal and safely reopened their sports facilities.

ADAPTING TO THIS NEW REALITY HAS BEEN DIFFICULT for many, but for Drew Pittman, Associate Athletic Director for Event Management and Facilities at Baylor University, this is not completely unfamiliar territory. Pittman started in the sports security industry in the wake of 9/11 when all teams, organizations, schools, and associations were being forced to completely rethink their approach to safety and security. Pittman shares that he had an internship at NBC in New York when he was in college and worked on a project that involved talking to the different networks and emergency managers about how they worked after September 11th to make the media industry more secure and reliable in the event there was another disaster. “That was my first foray or awareness that these things even existed, so when I started working in college athletics and event management, I thought of everything through that lens,” he says. Since then, Pittman has become one of the key figures in the sports security industry, working closely with NCS4 and other organizations to establish best practices. He has collaborated with some of the top minds to prepare for and against traditional security impacts weighing on many other security managers, including active shooters, access control, and vehicular attacks, to name a few. But it’s the attack no one saw coming that has dominated Pittman’s time over the past nine months. “Pretty much everything about this pandemic is unprecedented, just the thought process that nobody was going to access these facilities or keep participating in sports except at the most minimal level,” shares Pittman. But ironically, in August 2019, Pittman went through an exercise at Baylor where they thought about things that could interrupt operations – on that list, pandemic, although Pittman admits recent unexpected natural disasters like the wildfires in California and the tornadoes that impacted Louisiana Tech were higher on the priority list. “This widespread situation was not one that had really come to mind that much,” he admits.


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REOPENING: COLLEGE Pittman started to understand the significant impact of the pandemic when the Big 12 Tournament and the NCAA Basketball Tournament were canceled. “I think those cancellations signaled this as very significant, and we recognized pretty early that there was going to be a new normal, and that we weren’t going to be going back to what we were doing anytime soon,” Pittman says. And while Pittman’s initial attention was on his facilities that are open 24/7/365 as well as the Baylor students that left for spring break and remained scattered across the country, he also began to evaluate the short- and long-term challenges associated with reopening. This meant meeting as early as late March about what was going to be necessary to safely return athletes to facilities to train and receive medical care, as well as receiving necessary academic and mental health support. Complicating this process was the initial information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and other public health organizations was constantly changing or evolving as more information was uncovered about the virus. “Our people understood that we had to work really hard on everything we were doing, because it was very important, but they also had to accept the fact that everything they’re doing may get thrown away tomorrow,” Pittman explains. Among the things that Pittman and his team had to accept was that spring sports weren’t going to happen, so the focus shifted to fall sports, such as football, volleyball, soccer, and cross country. For football, Pittman worked closely with his fellow event facility managers in the Big 12. They started a weekly roundtable starting on April 15th to discuss how to get back to business – a call that was a • 877-283-8518

weekly staple for those event managers for the next seven months before recently shifting to every other week. A few weeks later, the NCAA released its document for restarting athletic activities. For the Baylor sports community, it wasn’t about pushing back or complaining about those new guidelines, but rather knowing what the new normal was going to look like, specifically. “Everybody just wanted to know what the new rules were and what they needed to do, so they could get back to playing football or volleyball or basketball or whatever it is – because everybody wants to get back to some sense of normal,” says Pittman. At Baylor and at sports venues everywhere, that new normal, for now, involves a heavy dose of social distancing. For now, that means 25 percent capacity at football, soccer, and volleyball events. In order to be effective with new policies, Pittman understood how critical communication was going to be. Signage and verbal communication were important, but one tool has stood out as a key difference maker.

Editorial credit: Geoff Nelson /

“Social media is our best friend, as we can get our messaging out in written, video or audio messages with great graphics,” Pittman shares, also acknowledging traditional media like newspapers and television are important too. “We tried to get out in front of everybody so that when they got to an event, it wasn’t a surprise. We’re going to ask you to wear a mask, and we’re going to ask you to social distance and be seated in a manner that allows for social distancing.” Pittman also reallocated staff that would traditionally be working at gates or in a concourse or seating area and placed them around campus outside buildings to remind students to put their masks on or to provide them with sanitizer. This helped ensure a smoother process when those students would attend sporting events, especially at the initial point of entry where social distancing can be a challenge. “As people are walking through the metal detector or having their bag inspected or having their ticket scanned, we have staff there to ask people to put their mask on or to stand further back on the dots on the ground. That’s been pretty successful for us,” Pittman shares. Baylor also has teams in the stadium to enforce those policies, even a team designated specifically to address the student section. “We’ve only had a few instances where we’ve had to ask someone to leave the venue, because they didn’t want to comply with our rules.” One of the most important takeaways for Pittman from this experience is how important it is to keep learning and a willingness to adapt when something changes. “You can’t be so stuck in whatever it is that you decide, because there could be a new operational recommendation or best practice the next day,” says Pittman, who admits to reading new documents and reopening plans virtually every day to see if there is anything he can do to make his operations better. And while Pittman is hopeful that this new normal will eventually not involve masks and social distancing as a vaccine becomes available, he does see something introduced during this new normal that is likely going to become a permanent part of the fan experience. “I think the changes as it relates to sanitation hygiene are here to stay, such as looking at the chemicals we’re now using to disinfect and the opportunities we make available for hand washing and hand sanitizers. Public awareness is part of that change, as they’re going to request those things continue,” Pittman concludes. l


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REOPENING SPOTLIGHT: HIGH SCHOOL Athletic Director Gary Stevens shares how Thornton Academy in Maine has approached safely returning to play while overcoming student-athlete (and parent) challenges.

ONE OF THE MOST UNDERRATED JOB FUNCTIONS of a high school athletic director might be the safety and security responsibilities that fall under their jurisdictions. Gary Stevens knows this well, having served in that role for 25 years. But his direct involvement in safety and security really spiked in 2014 when he started a three-year term on the National Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association (NIAAA) Board of Directors. The Board was invited to send a representative to NCS4’s inaugural interscholastic summit, and Stevens was happy to volunteer. Little did he know what his first trip to The University of Southern Mississippi would inspire. “I remember when the organization started, getting copies of (Gameday Security) magazine, and I had met Lou Marciani at the national conference. He asked me about getting more involved in NCS4, so I joined the Advisory Board for NCS4 for the interscholastic division, and the next year, I was a facilitator at one of their summits,” Stevens recalls. “And the year after that, I was actually invited to be one of three people to help write the course on after-school safety and security, which was underwritten by the Department of Homeland Security.” One of the events that had a profound impact on Stevens prior to his association with NCS4 was the Boston Marathon bombing. His high school, Thornton Academy in Steep Falls, Maine, is only 100 miles from Boston. When the City of Boston was in lockdown following the bombing, Stevens met with his normally affable softball coach, John Provost, who shared he not only had attended part of the Boston Marathon but was at the very spot where the backpack had been dropped. “That event definitely played a role in getting into the school security initiative with NCS4 and embracing our role as after-school leaders to provide a safe environment,” Stevens shares. He has implemented various safety and security policies, including a drone policy to address this growing threat to interscholastic events. And then the safety threat no one saw coming arrived.

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REOPENING: HIGH SCHOOL Thornton Academy shut down on March 12, 2020. The last athletic event Thornton Academy hosted was a basketball game connected with the Special Olympics. Spring sports and activities were shut down as students moved to remote learning. When the school year ended, it was uncertain what the future would look like for the next school year. “When the summer came, our staff, and my associates were trying to open athletics back up, but our superintendents were very concerned about school openings, so they didn’t have people on campuses,” Stevens shares. June, July and August passed. Nothing. No face-to-face contact between coaches and kids. The state athletic association decided to open up sports on September 14, 2020, if the positivity rate and COVID-19 cases in your region met certain criteria. For Stevens, any hope at a return of fall sports was dashed by a major outbreak in York County, where the school is located, which was tied to a wedding that took place in the northern part of the state. Thornton Academy stayed in a holding pattern until late October, cutting their fall sports season down to only four weeks. “We have been trying to do a lot of catching up, plus the weather is turning very cold. It’s not the most ideal conditions to play in either, but we’re making the best of it,” says Stevens.

“None of us had a playbook for this, we are changing things daily based on new information, and we need to be open to that change.” GARY STEVENS

A key to safely ensuring the return of sports was education. Thornton Academy focused heavily on educating the community, its staff, and its students about how athletics would work in a COVID-19 world. This included the training of coaches, getting the word out to kids, as well as an online community forum for parents. “It was a chance for parents to understand the protocols we were going to be using for the student-athletes participating in practices and games, which involves a daily screening for each student-athlete,” Stevens shares. “We also shared how we would manage face coverings, how we would create social distancing, and improve the sanitization of equipment. So not only do you have to educate people on your protocols, but you have to implement it, and then keep your thumb on the pulse of it.” To the chagrin of some parents, Thornton Academy has a no-spectator rule, but Stevens has tried to find creative ways to get parents of senior studentathletes involved, such as using them as ball boys at games. “I did that just to give them the opportunity, but there’s a ripple effect. You’ll get parents trying to find a way to be there at the event, but at some point, you have to draw the line; so it’s challenging,” admits Stevens. Parent complaints aside, Stevens understands his primary focus was where it should be – on ensuring the health of the student-athletes and coaches. One of the changes he implemented involved the locker room. These were strictly used as a changing room rather than also as a gathering area. Nothing stays in lockers, everything needs to leave with the student-athletes. Green dots have been


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strategically placed to ensure everyone remains six feet apart. Stevens also made sure to have various outlets of communication with parents and the community. In addition to the community forum, he also utilized social media, as well as consistent emails. But for his own benefit, Stevens recognizes one of the most important keys to reopening your facilities and having a safe return of sports is flexibility. Things like face masks and social distancing, hand sanitizers and hygiene are fundamentals, but the additional safety precautions and protocols must live in a working document, according to Stevens. “Those are our four fundamental tools in everything we do, but everything else has been subject to change, even the guidelines of the symptoms of COVID-19,” he shares. “We have to be open to the fact that some standards could change.” While many people are talking about the new normal that exists during COVID-19 and that will exist post-pandemic, Stevens sees things a bit differently. “I think the new normal is that there’s no such thing as normal anymore. Best practices, for example, aren’t set in stone – they reflect current situations,” Stevens explains. “None of us had a playbook for this, we are changing things daily based on new information, and we need to be open to that change.” l

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Join the top safety and security professionals in the industry when you become a member of NCS4 Connect. As a member you receive: • Special pricing for forums and conference • Access to the online membership directory • Ability to communicate directly with other members, and more! Several options for membership are available. Visit the website to learn more. NCS4.USM.EDU/membership

THOUGHTS FROM THE INDUSTRY By Mark Helgeson, Security Manager – NRG Park, Houston and Donald Paisant, Hospitality/Sports Venue Consultant COVID-19’S IMPACT ON THE EVENT AND HOSPITALITY BUSINESSES HAS BEEN DEVASTATING. Businesses have lost millions, and many venues still cannot host events, or if they do, it is at a dramatically reduced capacity. For those entities operating at a reduced capacity, in all likelihood, the revenue generated does not come close to allowing the venue/client to be profitable. So, how does the event/hospitality industry bounce back once most of the COVID-19 restrictions are lifted? As new COVID-19 response procedures and protocols are developed and implemented, the event industry must collaborate and share best practices now more than ever before. This should include new and updated safety and security protocols, handling sanitation protocols, and event set-up. The most important aspect is to ensure that when patrons return to venues, both the patrons and the event venue staff are confident and comfortable with the new protocols. For our industry to survive the devastation of COVID-19, we must work together, communicate, and collaborate, as well as share ideas on processes and procedures to what is working and what is not. We must view each other as partners in pursuing new industry standards and consider innovative approaches in areas of security, parking, operations, food service, janitorial, etc., without damaging the fan experience. Maintaining high morale amongst venue staff is also imperative to providing a high-quality fan experience. Some of the COVID-19 related measures (technologies) that will remain a part of the future of the event industry are: • Touchless parking - using an app to pay for and reserve parking spaces • Mobile ticketing - also reduces the ability to counterfeit tickets • No bag policy (except for medical reasons) - if bags are allowed, designated gates for searching will result in slower entry times for those with bags

• Cashless concessions (phone app or QR code) food delivered to the patron’s seat will also eliminate lines at concession stands • Hands-free toilet flushing and hand-washing stations - along with continuous monitoring and cleaning of restrooms and facility

Any new innovation or procedure requires an investment to implement and maintain. So, how do venue/event management cover the added costs, especially when experiencing one of the worst years of an economic downswing in the event industry? One idea would be to implement a Safety, Technology, and Sanitation (STAS) fee. This fee would be a minimum charge per ticket. For example, $1 per ticket to help the venue/event offset the cost of implementing and maintaining technology and sanitation needs. Using the STAS of $1 example and data from for the five major sports in the United States, one can see how beneficial a $1 fee could be for a venue’s operational budget. SPORT NFL MLB NBA NHL MLS

AVG. ATTENDANCE 66,151 28,317 17,750 17,423 21,692



10 81 41 41 17

$661,510* $2,293,677 $727,750 $714,343 $368,764

Avg. Attendance is based upon 2019 season averages. *This total includes two pre-season games.

The amounts can be significant, and the table only represents single sports numbers; this does not include concerts, dirt shows, or other special events a venue hosts throughout the year. The additional revenue stream could help facility operators sustain new technologies and protocols in a post-COVID era. l G A ME DA Y S E C UR IT Y | F A L L 2 0 20


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THE WORLD MAY BE CHANGING, BUT YOUR SECURITY SYSTEM DOESN’T HAVE TO. Add touchless thermal screening to your current or new CEIA panel and elliptic column walk-through metal detectors (WTMDs) with the CEIA TDU (Thermal Detection Unit). The TDU’s embedded upgrade sensing kit is an easy-to-install, costeffective screening option that provides simultaneous threat and fever detection on all screened persons from the same WTMD – meaning no additional checkpoint space or manpower is required. Plus, TDU provides automatic and clear temperature alarm indication making it simple to operate with minimal training.

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TECH SAVVY How technology providers are adapting and innovating to help stadiums and arenas safely reopen WHEN NORTH CAROLINA GOVERNOR ROY COOPER ANNOUNCED that the Carolina Panthers could have as many as 5,200 fans (or roughly 7 percent of its 74,000-seating capacity) at their second home game versus the Arizona Cardinals on October 4, it was considered a positive step toward normalcy. But the return of fans to Bank of America Stadium was anything but normal. New policies and procedures needed to be implemented to protect fans against the spread of the coronavirus, putting additional stress on security professionals pressed to provide unprecedented levels of protection where every action would be subject to public scrutiny. “The coordination of a sporting event is complicated on a regular day, but adding in factors like social distancing, new cleaning procedures or prescreening for elevated body temperatures – and then every team needing a plan specific to their site, occupancy levels and local regulations – makes it even more challenging,” said Greg Tomasko, North America Applications Engineering Manager, Honeywell Commercial Security. Not only were venues forced to adapt, so were some of the top technology providers. For Honeywell, that meant shifting its traditional focus from access control and video analytics to nontraditional fan safety packages including air quality monitoring, and personal protective equipment (PPE) packs, which were distributed to any Panthers’ fans needing a mask, wipes, and hand sanitizers. “We’re working with our colleagues to deploy UV devices for cleaning and air quality products throughout stadiums and sports venues,” shared Tomasko. “We want fans, players and staff to be confident that the stadium or arena is safer and healthier.” Technology companies stepping up to support sports venues and events is nothing new, as some of the industry’s recent innovations and introductions have additional applications to help keep people safe during and post-pandemic.

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TECH SAVVY BE PREPARED Before COVID-19 started spreading around the world, the sports and entertainment events community was collectively focused on the guest experience and major threat management. According to Tomasko, venue managers were working to ensure faster and more efficient entrance and exits for fans and guests, with bolder digital signage and easier access to concessions and memorabilia. But on the security side, it was about smarter video systems and increased camera resolutions, a sentiment echoed by Axis Communications’ Scott Dunn.

Meanwhile, Honeywell recently introduced facial recognition for access control into its Pro Watch security management system to minimize contact with frequently touched surfaces. “We’re helping stadiums and customers create a smoother entry into facilities for players, staff and fans,” said Tomasko. “Our systems have become faster and more efficient to handle advanced security in masspopulation locations.” In addition to video surveillance and access control, Dunn shared that Axis continues to see great demand for solutions that enhance business operations, traffic analysis, perimeter protection, as well as anti-drone technology.

“For the most part, prior to the pandemic, it was all about video surveillance and access control,” noted Dunn, Senior Director, Business Development Systems and Solutions, Americas, Axis Communications. “The biggest shift has been toward IP-based and intelligent technologies and away from old analog technology, which had been the staple for many years.”

Axis offers IP-based radar for advanced perimeter detection, which is ideal for the open outdoor areas surrounding stadiums and events.

Both Honeywell and Axis had created advanced video surveillance and access control systems that have improved how security professionals monitor event activity. Among its innovations, Axis has released their first camera with an onboard deep learning processing unit (DLPU). The camera’s dual chipset combines with the company’s ARTPEC-7 chip and DLPU to enable third-party applications and analytics to run efficiently at the edge, resulting in a faster, more scalable system.

Honeywell’s Vindicator platform with solid-state radar technology can also be positioned for drone or unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) detection to provide early warning of potential airborne threats or explosive devices or harmful chemical agents attached to an incoming UAV.

The system can even be used to meet specific COVID-19 challenges. “The processing power of this camera is being used with software that detects whether or not people are wearing a mask, which offers clear safety and security benefits to stadiums and other venues,” Dunn shared.


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“Radar technology can provide stadium security with crucial information about detected objects – information that video cameras can’t provide, such as exact position, speed and direction of movement,” added Dunn. “This information helps keep false alarms to a minimum and allows security to efficiently respond to occurrences.”

“Fans are ready to come back, and we will be right there to welcome them to a safer and smarter world.” SCOTT DUNN

Editorial credit: ZikG /

A TOUCH OF SAFETY The extensive portfolio of touchless technologies offered by companies like Axis Communications and Honeywell have sports security professionals uniquely positioned to provide proven solutions that further enhance attendee safety during COVID-19. Touchless technologies have been a staple of sports and event security for many years, including venue entry points where options that do not require human touch such as hand-wave devices, retinal scanning for biometrics, and long-range active credentials for mobile devices have become increasingly common. While the pandemic shutdown of sporting events has naturally delayed some projects for technology companies, it did inspire conversations on how these teams or organizations could safely navigate these new, unchartered waters. The discussions included examining solutions like remote monitoring, touchless access control, and occupancy management. “Since the onset of the pandemic, we continue to work with many different customers providing technology for people counting as well as occupancy solutions,” added Dunn. Facility managers are also inquiring about fever detection technologies. Honeywell drew on its expertise in the healthcare and pharmaceutical space to introduce thermal body-temperature pre-screening for its sports and entertainment customers. In this process, tear duct thermal temperature detectors can be deployed at stadium entries or turnstiles to process 20 to 30 fans per minute to prescreen for elevated body temperatures. “While this is no substitute for medical devices, the crowd dynamics of moving 50, 500, 5,000 or 50,000 people into a space require specialized high-speed equipment,” shared

Tomasko. “The use of thermal-body temperature sensing devices cannot tell us if someone is sick, but if it can indicate those two to four individuals in a group of 500 who have temperatures outside the normal range; that is critical to swift and efficient handling of a potential risk.”

LOOKING AHEAD Looking ahead to the future of sports security in the short- and long-term, technology providers are highly optimistic, despite the new challenges. Tomasko sees sports security professionals investing in specialized traffic flow and safety devices to return a small number of people to venues, although he acknowledges these measures may not be a necessity five years from now. “The current situation has exposed where sports security can be smarter,” he shared. “If thermal sensors can be repurposed to expose where a part of the building or arena is at an uncomfortable temperature, the HVAC system could react. Or if a scheduling change moves a sporting event into a tight window of turnaround from a non-sport event, like a circus or rally, these new cleaning measures can ensure that the facility is always ready for any eventuality.” In the longer term, Tomasko sees smarter identification and targeted response based on the entire building’s intelligence being a priority for facility managers as they focus on the full health and safety of a building. But in the end, as it has always been and will always be, it comes down to ensuring the full safety of fans and creating the best experience possible. “Fans are ready to come back, and we will be right there to welcome them to a safer and smarter world,” concluded Dunn. l

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Risk management and emergency preparedness are essential to addressing civil unrest at sporting events. ON MARCH 12, 2020, only two weeks into its regular season, Major League Soccer did something it hadn’t done since the 9/11 attacks nearly 20 years earlier – it hit the pause button. All activities were put on hold due to the pandemic, with games resuming in July with the ‘MLS is Back’ tournament. The regular season then resumed on August 12, with FC Dallas becoming the first major league sports team to welcome fans back since the pandemic had shut down the sports world. But then Major League Soccer experienced something that had never happened in its 35year history – it hit the pause button again, but this time it had nothing to do with the pandemic. On August 25, 2020, five of the six scheduled matches were postponed. The decision made by each team was in response to the shooting of Jacob Blake, an African-American man killed by police days earlier in Wisconsin. This incident added fuel to a fire that had been reignited three months earlier when George Floyd died while being subdued by law enforcement in Minneapolis. Racial injustice is not a new issue, and its impact on the sports world has been felt for many years. From Tommie Smith and John Carlos raising their fists at the 1968 Olympics to Colin Kaepernick taking a knee in 2016, civil unrest has always

been an issue for sports facility managers tasked with controlling this unpredictable storm. It certainly was a prominent factor when Major League Soccer returned from its months-long COVID-19 postponement. “I think everybody was mindful of how significant (returning to play) was, and the social injustice issues were at the forefront of a lot of the discussions,” says Jeff Stonebreaker, VP of Safety and Security for MLS. “I think the league has shown great leadership in embracing our role as good stewards and being a part of the change and the progression towards bringing things together and moving forward.” Stonebreaker attributes part of the league’s success to the great relationship that it has with its fans and independent support groups. But that great communication extends beyond the fans. Another key part of maintaining a safe environment during periods of civil unrest is engaging the local communities, something risk mitigation specialist John Petrone acknowledges as being one of the most important parts to successful event planning during uncertain times. “I think the biggest thing we’ve learned is that it takes everybody to plan an event, especially with the times that we have before us now,”

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REST EASY says Petrone, President of Petrone Risk, a legal risk management firm. “From police to fire to EMT to local and federal governmental leaders to merchants that are within the area, all bring a piece of what needs to be in place in order for us to operate safely now and in the future.”

A SAFETY EVOLUTION John Petrone started Petrone Risk approximately 10 years ago after spending years as a defense attorney specializing in civil litigation. In that capacity, he worked with sports and entertainment organizations and noticed a few gaps in the security realm – an absence of an emergency preparedness team or even a safety committee. “I knew there was a better way, and risk management was the answer,” Petrone recalls. “Training had to be involved, documentation had to be involved, and an evolution of emergency preparedness programs.” Like civil unrest, there are numerous issues impacting sports security professionals today that have existed for many years, but how security leaders prepare and respond to those challenges has changed. Or, at the very least, has evolved. Tabletop exercises have become essential parts of any venue’s emergency preparedness plan. Companies like Petrone Risk will bring together key stakeholders like the facility operators, security leaders, government officials and applicable vendors, and support teams and run them through a variety of traditional and nontraditional safety and security scenarios, testing their emergency preparedness programs and preparing for that possible disaster. “The key is that you can get a glimpse into what could possibly occur and what your responses would look like, so everyone can prepare accordingly, and by involving the community, you ensure they are active in this process and everyone is learning from one another,” notes Petrone.


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For Stonebreaker, that evolved emergency preparedness approach, especially in the coronavirus era, also meant engaging colleagues across other sports. “At one point during the height of COVID, I was having weekly calls with my counterparts in the NBA and MLB to make sure we all have what we need in terms of policy, protocol, and PPE. Anything anyone had, we would share it with the group, so others could leverage that, if needed,” Stonebreaker shares. The steps by Stonebreaker and his professional league peers have proven to be extremely effective in helping return sports to some sort of normalcy. Examples include the NHL and NBA playoff bubbles, while the MLB opened up its biggest event, the World Series, to a limited number of fans. And a limited number of fans have been returning to select NFL venues, too. “Facilities are doing great things health and safety wise, and they’ve grown in that area over the last six to eight months. They will continue to grow and evolve, because the pandemic won’t be gone tomorrow. Life is going to change, and we have to ready ourselves,” says Petrone. “Health and safety are a priority, but we must keep security at the same level.”

WHAT COMES NEXT While many of the resources are being allocated toward health and safety, as they should be, there still needs to be that investment in security. “Facility managers and operators understand the need to strengthen the security side and continue to evolve their plans,” Petrone says. One way that organizations, teams and venues can do that is to pursue SAFETY Act acknowledgment. As part of the Homeland Security Act of 2002, Congress enacted the Support Anti-Terrorism by Fostering Effective Technologies Act of 2002. The SAFETY Act provides incentives for

the development and deployment of anti-terrorism technologies by creating systems of risk and litigation management. The purpose of the Act is to ensure that the threat of liability does not deter potential manufacturers or sellers of effective anti-terrorism technologies from developing and commercializing technologies that could save lives. “SAFETY Act acknowledgment is important. We’re trying to make our facilities the safest they can be for the teams that play in those facilities, the people whose fans use those facilities, and the employees that work in those facilities,” shares Petrone. Editorial credit: SFP Aerial Stock Footage /

Protesters, Atlanta PD, and National Guard gathered at Centennial Olympic Park in Atlanta.

Today, sports security professionals are facing both old and new challenges – the 21st century has brought cybersecurity threats as well as manned vehicles on the ground and unmanned vehicles in the sky. While Stonebreaker can’t predict what the next big threat may be, he does know that the sports security community will be ready.

“Five or ten years from now, Lord only knows what the next set of threats will be, but with planning, training and assessment, we will get through those things,” Stonebreaker says. “It’s good to have situational awareness, but we’re in this for the long haul. People need to have trust in us in the long haul that we can put on a safe and secure event.” And knowing that should make every fan rest a bit easier. l

MARK YOUR CALENDAR! 2021 NATIONAL SAFETY AND SECURITY CONFERENCE AND EXHIBITION Make plans to join NCS⁴ November 9-10, 2021, in sunny Phoenix, Arizona. Details forthcoming in the New Year.

CONFERENCE REFLECTIONS Inside NCS4’s First Virtual Conference LIKE MANY OTHER TRADITIONALLY IN-PERSON EVENTS this year, NCS4’s 2020 Annual Conference and Exhibition was held virtually on October 12-14, with more than 400 sport safety and security industry professionals in attendance. Johnson Controls was the Title Sponsor. The conference centered around the theme The Way Forward, focused on the effects of COVID-19 on the industry, reopening venues, and strategic planning. Specifically, presentations addressed the pandemic’s impact on events within stadia/arenas and open-air spaces (e.g., road events, festivals), resuming operations with public health protocols, communicating policies to stakeholders, and organizational and personal resiliency. Breakout sessions covered topics such as leveraging data for decision-making, venue disinfection, private sector and U.S. government collaboration, legal and risk management issues, and effective technology use. More than 40 industry leaders and experts contributed, including professional sports league officials, law enforcement personnel, physicians, attorneys, government officials, technology directors, researchers, and educators. Keynote speakers included Tom Bossert, former U.S. Homeland Security Advisor; Don Garber, Major League Soccer Commissioner; Steve Adelman, Adelman Law Group and Event Safety Alliance VP, among others. The conference included 28 exhibitors and sponsors who interacted with visitors, answered questions, and provided resources. The virtual space also offered a resource library with presentation slides, exhibitor and sponsor materials, and professional resources from NCS4. The full conference is available on-demand through October 14, 2021. Those who attended the event may log-in to view the content anytime during the on-demand period. Additionally, those who did not attend may register at a discounted rate. Visit NCS4.USM.EDU/conference to learn more. l


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PARTICIPANT FEEDBACK “The conference is a perfect example of how collaborating with NCS4 prepares facilities and security professionals to adapt, overcome and deliver results without missing a beat through any challenges that we may face.” ANGIE NIX San Francisco 49ers and Levi’s Stadium, Director of Guest Services “We all share the common challenge of adapting and innovating health, safety, security, service, and operations for sports and entertainment venues, but after listening to and learning from the members of NCS4 at the conference, I feel confident that together, we can create environments ready for anything the future holds,” said Brian Young, Johnson Controls Chief Commercial Officer. “Experts from every level and multiple sports and events provided great insight and information to help move us forward safely. Sharing information collectively at the conference is the epitome of teamwork making us all safer and more secure.” JEFF STEELE Auburn University Athletics Associate AD, Facilities & Operations

“The NCS4 Conference brought together professionals from a variety of industries, backgrounds and venues in a successful virtual setting that continues to help us learn, grow and collaborate together,” said Billy Langenstein, NFL Director of Security Services and Investigation.

CONGRATULATIONS! NCS4 recognizes those who received CSSP certification over the past year

Stacey E. Aguiar, CSSP

David Sawler, CSSP, CPPÂŽ

Michael Archibeque, CSSP

Director of Arena and Facility Operations, University of Louisville Athletics

Deputy Director of Public Safety/Emergency Management, Global World Championship Events, IRONMAN Group Security Manager, The Star

Owen Dresser, CSSP

Managing Director, S.A.F.E. Management

Mike Gibson, CSSP

Director of Event Security, Olympia Entertainment

Jared Hoernig, CSSP

Director of Emergency Management, Old Dominion University

Yousef Kassis, CSSP

General Manager, Imperial Events Security Services, LLC

Ken Kuebler, CSSP

Deputy Chief, Columbus, Ohio Division of Police

Sean McAuley, CSSP

Assistant Director of Sports Facilities and Event Management, Towson University

Chief Security Officer, Bower Events

Keith Schobert, CSSP

Captain Garrett Shelton, CSSP

Old Dominion University Police Department

Marie Spell, CSSP

Special Events Coordinator, USC Division of Law Enforcement and Safety

Laurene Spiess, CSSP

Lieutenant, Boston College Police Department

Keith Sumas, CSSP

Director of Emergency Management, Georgia State University

John Terry, CSSP

Manager of Event Operations, U.S. Soccer

Rob Turner, CSSP

Crisis Management and Preparedness, University of Kentucky Police Department

Those being recognized received their CSSP between July 2019 and September 2020. For a complete listing of all current CSSP certificants, click here.

NCS4 OFFERS THE CERTIFIED SPORT SECURITY PROFESSIONAL (CSSP) certification for mid- and upper-level sport security professionals, including those working in facility/event management, law enforcement, emergency management, government, public safety, human resources, and other facets of the industry. Achieving the CSSP certification is a significant accomplishment. Certificants must demonstrate the depth and breadth of their sport safety and security knowledge and experience by passing a comprehensive examination with a score of 78 percent or greater. To sit for the examination, candidates must provide evidence of at least eight years in management roles related to sport safety and security. A bachelor’s degree may replace four of the eight years. Candidates must also provide two professional letters of reference. Visit the website for more information or to learn how you can earn CSSP certification.

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The National Center for Spectator Sports Safety and Security (NCS4) Research Outlook THE NCS4 IS LOCATED AT THE UNIVERSITY OF SOUTHERN MISSISSIPPI (USM), a top-tier (R1) Carnegie Classified institution for its very high research activity. Only 130 universities and colleges in the United States have achieved this designation. Furthermore, USM offers nationally-recognized programs housed in all four of its degree-granting colleges: Arts and Sciences, Business and Economic Development, Education and Human Sciences, and Nursing and Health Professionals. The NCS4 is renowned for its DHS/FEMA and INTERPOL training programs, certifications, conference and forum events, and best practices resources. One of the strategic priorities in the near term is to elevate the research profile of the NCS4. The appointment of Dr. Justin Kurland as Director of Research is the first important step toward achieving this goal. Dr. Kurland, alongside NCS4 Research Associate Dr. Joslyn Zale and affiliated Research Fellows, possess the experience and expertise to 1) produce relevant and applied research products to help industry professionals with data-driven decision-making, and 2) identify gaps in training and education, policies and procedures, and technological solutions. The NCS4 has begun to define its research agenda that will be the most impactful and helpful for the sports safety and security industry. Consultation with the National Advisory Board and Advisory Committees will also guide NCS4’s future work. Currently, Dr. Kurland is championing three main research projects that will pay dividends for the industry; this includes: SPORTS AND ENTERTAINMENT SAFETY AND SECURITY VENUE SURVEY – intended for Vice Presidents (or Directors) of Safety and Security and intercollegiate Athletic Directors. The survey addresses information specific to venue usage and demographics, personnel, hiring, budget, securityrelated interactions with visitors, organizational responses to issues/problems, and technology. SPECTATOR SPORTS AND ENTERTAINMENT SAFETY AND SECURITY SURVEY – captures aspects of fan perceptions of safety and security and attempts to extract pertinent information about the routine game/event day behaviors. More specifically, the survey delves into questions such as where spectators go before a game if they tailgate and what mode of transport is taken to get to a particular venue. NATIONAL VENUE SAFETY AND SECURITY INDEX – this research project utilizes open-source geocoded, time-stamped police-recorded incident data to analyze crime and disorder patterns that emerge around professional sports venues. Insights into when and where problems emerge are G A ME DA Y S E C UR IT Y | F A L L 2 0 20



quantified to guide stakeholders on resource allocation or potential interventions that might be considered to reduce or prevent incidents from occurring. Each of the above The NCS4 is located inside the Trent Lott National Center on USM’s campus. projects answers the College of Business and Economic important questions on aspects of safety and Development’s nationally ranked MBA and security from multiple perspectives, in addition Sport Management Programs, and the School of to what secondary data in the form of recorded Criminal Justice, Forensic Science and Security’s incidents suggests. While each project tackles its Institute for Advanced Analytics and Security own unique set of questions, a more complete (IAAS). The MBA and Sport Management understanding of the perception of those in Programs offer an emphasis area in Sport Security operational positions and spectators can be Management and students, are able to gain triangulated to help the industry create safer experience working at the NCS4 or IAAS and and more secure events while simultaneously assisting staff with research projects. Dr. Josh Hill enhancing the fan experience. leads the newly formed IAAS, and their mission 4 is dedicated to the design and application of The NCS also supports a Research Fellows machine learning, artificial intelligence, and Board, which includes faculty from institutions advanced statistical analysis to security issues. worldwide studying various disciplines such as Faculty affiliates are currently conducting a criminal justice, economics, sport management, systematic review of existing sports management computer science, cybersecurity, and geography. literature concerning security. These fellows produce interdisciplinary research in the sports safety and security field, and the The NCS4 projects will leverage technologies NCS4 promotes their work biannually through integrated into the National Sports Security a Research Impacts Practice special edition Laboratory (NSSL). For example, numerous newsletter. Recent research studies have focused donations have made edge computing more on demonstrating the relationship between than just an idea related to safety and security seasonal influenza levels and the presence of in and around sporting venues, but a reality sports and entertainment venues in U.S. cities; that we will ultimately begin to take advantage assessing fans’ willingness to return to sports of in the coming year. The NCS4 Technology venues in light of public health measures and Alliance partners’ commitment to future research in-venue conditions such as the requirement to endeavors is also significant. They will help shape wear a mask; evaluating sport event labor issues national-level surveys addressing venue safety during the COVID-19 pandemic; exploring the and security and share the latest technological influence of stadia and the built environment on the spatial distribution of crime, and; determining developments and operational suitability with NCS4 stakeholders. The relationships cultivated the leadership competencies necessary to with sports leagues and teams over the past manage a crisis and lead an organization post15 years will play a critical role in the NCS4’s crisis. ability to answer important research questions 4 The NCS has formed partnerships with academic and promote innovative ways our community approaches safety and security in and around units on the USM campus, nationwide, and 4 venues and entertainment events. internationally. Fortunately, NCS is uniquely positioned to leverage faculty and student As the Center evolves, so to will its research expertise in various degree programs and capacity! l institutes across the USM campus, including


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