NCS4 Gameday Security - Spring 2019

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Event Management

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SPRING 2019 National Center for Spectator Sports Safety & Security 118 College Drive #5193 | Hattiesburg, MS (601) 266-6183

National Center for Spectator Sports Safety and Security Dr. Lou Marciani


Lauren Cranford


Daniel Ward


Alison Crumpton


Bill Markopoulos


Alan Jones


William Adams


Brooke Graves


Dr. Kelley Gonzales


Christopher Kinnan


Tymika Rushing


Joslyn Zale


Michelle Stringfellow INSTRUCTIONAL DESIGN SPECIALIST Dr. Stacey Hall


Dr. Joshua Hill


Dr. Laura Gulledge


Jacob Neal


Brayden Songe


Contents FEATURES 4 6 10

NCS4 Update

etter from the Director L Update from Dr. Lou Marciani VEHICULAR SCREENING

SETTING A SCREEN The Rise of Vehicular-Ramming Attacks


SAFE TAILGATING TALE A The Wonderful, Wild World of Tailgating

PERIMETER CONTROL 13 MAINTAIN CONTROL Identifying and Mitigating Risks Further Out FAN VIOLENCE 16 PLAYING PEACEMAKER Maintaining a Safe Environment 18 20



CROWDED HOUSE How to Mantain Safe Crowd Movement

NCS4 Update

A Note from the Director Dr. Lou Marciani

Welcome to our Spring issue of Gameday Security! In this issue, we wanted to examine what a gameday experience would look like from a family’s perspective, including the safety and security challenges they are likely to encounter. We’ll cover important topics such as tailgating, perimeter security, and fan violence. With over 500 million spectators attending sporting events annually, providing a safe and secure experience has never been more important. At our Center, we are busy gearing up for a special upcoming event - the 10th anniversary of our National Sports Safety and Security Conference and Exhibition. The conference will take place on July 9-11 at the New Orleans Downtown Marriott in Louisiana. The theme this year will be “Learning from the Past - Preparing for the Future.” We’ll explore ways to effectively mitigate risk and increase organizational preparedness. Join us as we look back on major incidents impacting the sports and entertainment industry, share lessons learned, and pave the way forward. For more information about the conference, you can visit our website at We hope to see you in “The Big Easy” this summer! Lou Marciani, Director of NCS4


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LeArning from The PAsT - PrePAring for The fuTure The tenth anniversary of the national sports safety and security Conference and exhibition will take place on July 9-11, 2019 in New Orleans, Louisiana. The safety and security profession in the post 9/11 era must continue to evolve and adapt to meet current and future challenges. During the conference, we will explore ways to effectively mitigate risk and increase organizational preparedness. Join us as we look back on major incidents impacting the sports and entertainment industry, share lessons learned, and pave the way forward.

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 sport leagues, intercollegiate athletics, interscholastic athletics, marathon/endurance events, and commercial sport and entertainment facilities (concerts, festivals, motocross, wrestling, etc.)

TiTLe sPonsor



Vehicular screening is more important than ever as vehicular-ramming attacks have become one of the biggest threats at sporting events. The Jones family packs up their car and leaves for the big game approximately three hours before the start of the event. The excitement everyone shares once the venue comes into view is tempered a bit when they notice vehicles being investigated. Mr. and Mrs. Jones quietly question why law enforcement is stopping these vehicles. Will they be stopping and screening all vehicles before they can park and enjoy tailgating? And has a threat been made they should be aware of – a threat substantial enough that the Jones family might be safer returning home?

Dubbed one of the greatest threats to sporting events, vehicular attacks have quickly moved up every security professional’s priority chart, and for good reason. This form of terrorist and non-terrorist attack has resulted in close to 200 deaths and hundreds more injured in the last three years alone. “We’ve seen domestically and internationally that the bad guys are still trying to blow up brick and mortars, but their focusing more on using large vehicles as their weapons,” says Darren Johnson, Director of Safety and Security for the Detroit Lions. “That means either loading vehicles with fertilizer and accelerants to cause explosions, or using the vehicles to ram people in a large, crowded area. This is a major concern for us, and not just at the professional level, but collegiate and high school as well.” That also extends to motorsports. One of the staples of any NASCAR or racing event is the RVs and campers that are allowed into the heart of an event, which presents unique challenges other sports don’t have to face. “We’ve always done vehicular screening, but the difference between us versus an NFL stadium is that we park an RV on the equivalent of the 50-yard line, and those RVs can carry more with a bigger bang,” says Kevin Henry, Managing Director of Facility Operations at Pocono Raceway in Long Pond, Pennsylvania. Screening a camper or RV is an extensive process


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that takes a significant amount of time, especially as these vehicles have grown over the years, and one of the biggest challenges motorsports face is doing this in a thorough, yet fan-friendly way. “Camping along the race track is a huge part of the fan experience, and it’s a challenge to screen these vehicles in an effective, guest-friendly manner,” Henry admits. “Undercarriage cameras are one answer, but they don’t show inside the camper. And we’re going into these people’s homes, so you have to have some discretion.” From NASCAR to the NFL, sports security professionals on all levels are facing vehicular screening challenges of varying shapes and sizes, but one thing they have in common is the modern-day technologies and tactics being utilized to thwart new threats. TECH SUPPORT Since 9/11, the process of screening vehicles has dramatically evolved at sports venues and events around the world, including Ford Field. Johnson recalls the days of antiquated screening methods – or more accurately, method, as the process used to be simply using undercarriage mirrors to detect foreign objects. “Now we utilize advanced detection technologies that kind of does away with human error and is much more accurate, covering the entire undercarriage of vehicles,” Johnson says. “Also, we’re utilizing

VEHICULAR SCREENING biochemical and radiological detection, which is performed by members of the Detroit Fire Department HazMat team, along with the National Guard’s 51st Battalion.” Collectively, these teams use radiation detection involving numerous meters placed around the stadium’s outer perimeter (as far as 200 yards out) and anything that comes into that perimeter – a person or vehicle – is immediately scanned for radioactives and biochemicals. If a threat is detected, a team is immediately deployed to the source, a similar process shared by Henry and his team. “From an early time, we’ve been looking for chemicals, biologicals, radiologicals and nuclear-type devices with the help of a civil support team, specifically for those vehicles that drive into our infield,” Henry shares. The technology being utilized today is so advanced that individuals that have recently had chemotherapy can be identified. “We don’t want to embarrass or draw attention to the individual, so any investigation is done quietly and these individuals typically have letters from their doctors,” notes Johnson, who stresses the importance of embracing vehicular screening technologies the way the Lions have. “I know a lot of people don’t put their heart and soul in technology but as the technology gets better, we are becoming more dependent on it,” he says. “We have at least 50 detectors around the stadium’s exterior and it has proven to be very, very effective.” While waiting behind cars to pull into the parking lot, the Jones children notice a few dogs walking around the outside of the stadium, guided by what appears to be law enforcement officials.

Dogs or canine detection is another method preferred by sports security professionals. At Pocono, for example, once an RV is setup in the facility, personal detection canines – Vapor Wake K9 dogs – are deployed throughout the campground to detect anything, providing a multilayer approach. In Detroit, they went from having three K9s to a minimum of 15 K9 teams from around the region that keep their dogs actively working sporting events. Providing the peace of mind Mr. and Mrs. Jones were looking for, they happily move toward the tailgating area to begin the next part of their family adventure.“It’s all about wanting to get their dogs trained and dealing with mass crowds,” Johnson notes. Detroit is unique in that it is the only city in the U.S. where four professional teams play within a half-mile of one another. While this can create some challenges, it also creates some security opportunities, including utilizing shared technologies. Coincidentally, as more teams move into downtown areas to make it more convenient for their fan bases, Detroit’s success has become the model other organizations can follow. LEADING THE WAY The inclusion of the latest technology is hardly a surprise – the NFL often leads the way in sports security, providing the blueprint for others to emulate down the line, even with more limited resources. One reason the NFL is ahead of the curve with its proactive vehicular screening measures is the work of new Head of NFL Security, Cathy Lanier, the former Chief of Police for


Washington, D.C. Through her initiatives and the committed efforts of all NFL franchises, families should feel confident about their safety, according to Johnson. “I think we’ve gone above and beyond to ensure that our families and all of our fan bases are covered before they’re in close proximity to the stadiums,” Johnson says. “We’re pushing the perimeters and these measures out further to ensure that those that want to engage in tailgating activities around the stadium can do so without wondering if there’s anything that’s going to harm them.” GD Providing the peace of mind Mr. and Mrs. Jones were looking for, they happily move toward the tailgating area to begin the next part of their family adventure.


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Weaving a

Safe Tailgating Tale

While alcohol consumption remains a top concern in tailgating areas, it’s far from the only challenge sports security professionals face today. The Jones family moves through vehicle screening to arrive at their designated parking lot. Mr. Jones parks and pulls out lawn chairs, games and a grill for the family to enjoy while they wait for the game to start. This is a tradition in the Jones family, something Mr. Jones wants to pass down to his own kids. But the music is louder than Mr. Jones remembers, the language rougher and the fans more aggressive. After a short time, he starts questioning if he made the right decision to expose his family to the wonderful, yet scary world of tailgating.

Two years ago, The Washington Post examined the rise in fan violence at NFL games. Per the story, arrests had trended up since 2011 with at least six arrests being made per game at the time of the story. Notably, of the 15 games with the most arrests between 20112016, nine of those games began at 4:00 p.m. EST or later. The connection between escalation in fan violence or hostile fan interactions and later games can partially be attributed to the part of the game-day experience that is the most difficult to monitor and perhaps the most dangerous – tailgating in the parking lots or designated areas. While most associate the over-consumption of alcohol as the primary problem impacting tailgating areas and parking lots, it is only one of many challenges sports security professionals are facing today. The NFL has recognized tailgating areas have become a problem, and has taken steps to address one of the key reasons families might opt to stay away from attending a game. Based on a best-practice recommendation from the NFL, the Kansas City


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Chiefs, for example, are requiring all tailgaters to enter the stadium at kickoff or go home, something in stark contrast to the collegiate level. PROTECTING LONGHORNS It is not uncommon for the number of tailgaters without tickets to mirror the number of tailgaters with tickets. At the University of Texas, on top of the 100,000 fans tailgating before a football game, there is an additional 20,000 on stadium block that may never even go into the stadium, broken up into several areas that even includes the state government complex that borders the university. The evolution of the tailgating area is by design. Teams and schools are investing in the areas surrounding the stadium to further enhance the gameday experience. Texas, for example, has transformed Bevo Boulevard into an area designed to mimic some of the great tailgating locations in the U.S. such as The Grove at The University of Mississippi (Ole Miss). “It’s really becoming like a mini Mardi Gras around the stadium on game days,” says David Allison, Safety

TAILGATING and Security Manager at the University of Texas. “And that is part of the challenge,“You want to make sure to enhance safety so fans have a great experience without being too obtrusive and not affecting game operations in a negative way, as well.” But sometimes, that fan experience outside the stadium can be impacted by factors out of human control. “One of the biggest threats to our campus is severe and inclement weather,” says Jimmy Johnson, Assistant Vice President for Campus Safety at the University of Texas. “We look at patron safety from an area of, can we protect them if we have severe and inclement weather come in? We have to look at things from an environmental health and safety, as well as a fire safety perspective.” Prior to leaving for the game, Mr. Jones referenced the tailgating rules posted online on his favorite sports team’s website so he was clear on every rule to ensure the best and safest tailgating experience for his family. Schools, organizations and sports teams are increasingly utilizing fan guidebooks specific to a sport or event. At the University of Texas, there is a section specific to tailgating on its website that outlines all rules and expectations. But sometimes, concerns extend beyond the parking lots or designated tailgating areas. EVOLVING THREATS While most attendees to a sporting event start with great intentions, which is clearly visible in vibrant tailgating areas, sports security professionals have to focus equally on those ‘fans’ that never get out of their cars, opting to use their vehicles as weapons. “One of the biggest challenges has to be vehicle ramming. It’s a high-impact, low-probability event, but if it did happen, it would be catastrophic,” notes Don Verett, Assistant Chief with the University of Texas Police Department. “We take proactive measures to protect our pedestrians and keep them separated from the vehicular traffic. On Bevo Boulevard, for example, where we have a really high concentration of people, we have shielding and things in place to impede traffic so that people would never be able to do that.” Johnson notes that road closures and facility and street hardening tactics are critical — tactics that include water-filled bollards that weigh 1,600 pounds, concrete and steel dragon’s teeth, as well as utilizing advertisements as a blockade. And of course, the constant visible presence of law enforcement that not only provides the necessary support throughout the outside perimeters, but provides fans with peace of mind. Another aspect of tailgating security fans should take comfort in not only includes the visible, but the

not-so-visible as well. TECH TOOLS On the technology side, the University of Texas utilizes a dual redundant system of communication between the emergency operations center and the game operations center. “Game operations is responsible for the activity that occurs inside the stadium safety-, security- and gamewise,” says Allison. “The emergency operations center oversees all safety and security on the entire footprint of whatever is even going on when it’s operational. And it includes representatives from all the different agencies that are assisting us to include campus, fire, IT and athletic staff personnel.” During tailgating, Mr. and Mrs. Jones check their favorite sports team’s social media pages for updates on incoming weather, crowd movement as well as any unusual circumstances that could impact their safety and game-day experience. Social media is a key part of the security plan as Texas, like many other institutions and teams, have a mechanism in place for fans to text if they see a problem or need assistance. Social media can also be used to monitor parking and transportation.

Social media pages are also a key way to communicate any type of emergency to fans. “We have personnel whose main perspective on game-day is to monitor social media,” states Johnson. “This could include people talking on social media about meeting at a specific location, and we can learn if we need to reallocate our resources. Social media also allows us to quell rumors and put accurate information out there. For us, it is a very good tool that enhances the robust system that we have in place.” Verett notes that social media monitoring isn’t exclusive to strictly game-day. “We monitor social media 24 hours a day,” he says. “It probably ramps up a little bit on game weeks when we’re having a home game, but that’s just the world we live in and that’s something critical. That’s a critical source of information that we’re going to monitor.”


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READY FOR THE GAME Tailgating has become a tradition that most sports fans cherish, something that serves as the perfect appetizer before the main course. Challenges will always exist – Allison remembers reading about fans doing shots out of a bowling ball as tailgating parties become more and more outrageous. But it’s all part of the game-day experience that will only continue to evolve. And, in turn, it’s also driving the evolution of the security procedures sports and law enforcement professionals lean on to provide the safest pre-game party environment possible. GD


Implementing a layered perimeter control approach is critical in identifying and mitigating risks earlier and further away from a sports venue or event. The Jones family makes its way toward the stadium. It has been years since Mr. and Mrs. Jones have come to a game, dating back to before they had their children, and they can’t help but notice the barriers and miscellaneous big trucks sitting nose-to-nose near the stadium that appear to have nothing to do with anything actually related to the team or event. Mr. and Mrs. Jones aren’t immediately concerned, but rather, confused.

In Spring 2016, the City of Atlanta celebrated being awarded the 2019 Super Bowl in a variety of different ways. For Joe Coomer, Vice President of Security for AMB Sports and Entertainment, which owns the Atlanta Falcons, Atlanta United and operates Mercedes-Benz Stadium, his mind was elsewhere. “We immediately jumped into perimeter control, because we had to create a plan where we secured a perimeter encompassing nearly 2.5 miles, accounting for all the Super Bowl Week activities surrounding the stadium,” Coomer says. “It is probably one of the biggest perimeters we’ve ever had to secure.” While the demands surrounding the Super Bowl are truly unique, it also underscores a growing challenge facing sports security professionals today – evolving perimeter control challenges. Rick Fenton, VP Corporate Security and Chief Security Officer, Ilitch Holdings, remembers back to the pre 9/11 days when perimeter control was vastly different. “Perimeter control was more about traffic control in the immediate area of the venue, and how you could safely move your guest along pedestrian routes from one parking lot to another to the venue,” he says. “It was about making sure people could safely walk across the street via crosswalk and get to the venue.” While that responsibility remains, the concept of perimeter control has greatly evolved since the events of 9/11.

“Along comes 9/11, and now all the leagues not only begin to collect intelligence information from the FBI and eventually the Department of Homeland Security, but they also began writing formal security plans,” Fenton shares. “Very quickly following the events of 9/11, a layered concept of the outer perimeter, middle perimeter and inner perimeter was introduced and implemented.” WORKING TOGETHER A variety of personnel configurations and technologies help establish and maintain each perimeter. For example, with the outer perimeter, closed-circuit television plays a critical role in monitoring the main pedestrian walkways, as well as the deployment of explosion-detection canines. “While the technologies and personnel arrangements may take different forms, it’s all about trying to enhance perimeter control and detect bad people with bad intentions,” says Fenton. Following the events of 9/11, sports security professionals were focused on complex attacks and pre-operational surveillance, but now, simpler but still extremely dangerous methods are being utilized – specifically, using a vehicle as a weapon or even engaging in more traditional methods of attack.




On their way toward the stadium, the Jones family sees an unmarked commercial work vehicle that has been stopped down the street from the stadium, and wonder why a seemingly harmless truck is being searched by law enforcement. At first they want to just continue on, but their children see the dog around the vehicle, and the mirror being used under the vehicle’s carriage, which further piques their interest. “We’re talking about somebody renting a truck and then using it on large crowds, or simply using knives and smaller weapons on those crowds,” Fenton explains. “Now we have these hardened perimeters where you’re not allowing vehicles in close proximity to the venue.” At Little Caesars Arena, home to the Detroit Pistons and Detroit Red Wings, Fenton had the unique opportunity to build in hardened security measures as the venue was being constructed. This included using permanent barriers, retractable K-12 bollards and wedge barricades, to name a few. Specifically, Fenton utilizes a raptor system on its north and south boundaries that can be deployed up and down in as little as a second or two. There is a buffer on the west border near parking, which is meant to serve as blast protection for the arena. “If you wanted to detonate something on the road, the parking structure itself would absorb it, and if you detonated something inside the parking structure, it would collapse the parking structure but it’s not going to impact the arena,” Fenton explains. But most venues don’t have the luxury of having security measures such as the ones outlined by Fenton incorporated into the original construction of their stadium. Most of the stadiums in Major League Baseball, for example, are at least 20 years old and require a different approach to perimeter control. “Nearby at Comerica Park, they’re using portable barriers while other venues are opting for trucks filled with sand, but they are all committed to creating that hardened perimeter that the league wants them to create,” says Fenton.


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The amount and variety of barriers can vary depending on a few factors. Many stadiums are urban environments, for example, making it harder to shut down vital roads and forcing venue managers to account for the surrounding buildings and unrelated game-traffic flow. A way to address this issue, according to Fenton, is getting cooperation from the police and Homeland Security to close down key surrounding roads for a limited period of time. In that case, portable barriers that can be easily installed and removed are essential in creating a hardened perimeter. For Coomer, creating those hardened perimeters requires making sure that he has the K-12 rated walls for vehicle protection and that they are an adequate distance away from the stadium. But Coomer also stresses the value of technology for facial recognition, where he’s seen significant technological advancement in video technology. The Jones family prepares to enter the venue through the gate, as they have their bags screened and they prepare to walk through metal detectors. Mrs. Jones looks up and notes the camera staring back at her. “What we’ve seen get better (on today’s camera surveillance) is pixels on target on the facial recognition,” says Coomer, noting that the capability is now 80 pixels while many still utilize the standard 40-pixel technology. Coomer acknowledges many venues can’t or won’t utilize that advanced technology simply because they don’t have the manpower to carefully examine a camera on every door into a stadium. “It’s all about access and availability to get in and around the building, and you have to have these different angles,” he shares. “If you do incorporate a full-blown facial recognition plan, you better account for all the access points in the stadium.” Coomer has seen the number of access points increase from 50 to 150, with sports security professionals relying on two ‘mega’ cameras to handle everything. Facial recognition requires a much bigger investment, including

the collaboration with law enforcement on persons of interest as well as the level of staff member tasked with monitoring each access point and utilizing the facial recognition software. And while some struggle with whether or not this type of technology is worth the time and financial investment, it does serve as another example of how technology is changing perimeter security today. HARD STOP “When it comes to perimeter control, you can never have enough training on the latest tips, trends and tactics,” says Coomer. “Everyone has amazing plans, but then you need to do some quality control testing of those plans because everything works on paper, but if you aren’t adequately testing your plan, how do you know it’ll work?” In the end, testing those plans and adopting a layered perimeter control approach will allow sports security to achieve its ultimate goal – identify and mitigate threats sooner and further away from the venue and event itself. “The more you can force things further out on the perimeter, the more that these bad people will look to go elsewhere, because they are not getting into the arena itself, and that’s important,” Fenton concludes. GD



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The Jones family enjoys some good-natured teasing during the game, as one of the children proudly wears the jersey of her favorite player – who happens to be on the visiting team. That teasing starts turning nasty as the game goes on, and as the visiting team increases its lead. Profanity and aggressive shouting starts raining down on anyone wearing the opposing team’s jersey, include the young Jones daughter. What was originally just a fun day at the game has just taken a very serious turn as the Jones family fears for its safety.

Fan violence is one of the oldest “traditions” in sports dating back to ancient times as disgruntled or overly passionate fans have made their presence felt beyond the vocal support teams and organizations prefer, opting instead to riot and cause chaos on and around the playing field or event space. While many of the most infamous or well-known incidents typically involve fans running onto the field to attack players, coaches and/or umpires – it’s the violence outside the playing field that is forcing some fans to stay away. The violence itself is nothing new, but the manner at which that information is shared is, thanks in large part to smartphone videos and social media. While football games are most associated with fan violence, it is not an issue exclusive to traditionally aggressive sports. In basketball, court storming


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continues to put overzealous fans and emotionally heightened players on a collision course and even tennis players were forced to worry about fan violence after Monica Seles was attacked in 1993. And this problem isn’t exclusive to the interscholastic, intercollegiate and professional levels as fan fights at recreational or youth events continue to plague the lower levels too. Today, all levels are reevaluating their planning and response strategies to not only protect the fans they are responsible for, but protect the reputation of their team and sport, as well. A RETURN TO FAN FRIENDLY Fan frustration is a leading cause for violence. Put simply, when the home team wins, people are happy. And when they lose, especially against a hated opponent or in a playoff scenario, they can look for


destructive ways to vent those frustrations – especially when alcohol is involved. Fortunately for Liz Woollen, her situation is a little different. The Chief of Police at the University of Oklahoma has rarely had to deal with fan violence since she assumed her role in 2003, partially because of the culture of winning the Sooners have carved out over many years. The Sooners football team has a lifetime .724 winning percentage, which includes 48 conference titles and 10 national championships. “We have great fans and fortunately have had very little fan violence, which can be partially attributed to the culture here,” says Woollen, a member of the Tulsa Police Department for 21 years. “But in terms of how we prepare for games, that has changed quite a bit since I first started doing this.” That evolution has included numerous advancements in protocol and technologies, including social media. “Social media has had a big impact on game day experiences, from the university being able to get messages out to enhancing the fan experience to being able to receive complaints or concerns from our fans through social media so that we can address them,” explains Woollen. Sensing his family might be in danger, Mr. Jones uses a text link that was provided to him when he purchased his tickets to communicate with gameday staff, notifying them that his family needs assistance. “We send out a text link that if any issues come up in a stadium, such as a spill or if there’s an issue with seating or ticketing,” Woollen says. “Fans can text the number and get a response and we can get resources directed to them.” In the event of potential fan violence, Woollen would then notify her contracted security team, CSC, which has a presence in every section of the stadium, and then her team would arrive shortly thereafter to back them up. Woollen also believes mitigating fan violence starts well before fans sit down in their seats, sharing: “Everything starts at the gate. You have the ability to prohibit items that could contribute to fan violence, and you have the ability to refuse entry to folks that may

have enjoyed tailgating a bit too much.” Ensuring the safety of the fans even starts well beyond that. Woollen shares that, at the University of Oklahoma, they have an all-hands-on-deck training at the beginning of the season. A number of outside police officers from other departments are hired to assist during football season, and they are required to sit down and go over all procedures so they are fully acclimated with all aspects of the security process. “When we staff our games, we always have an OU officer with someone from another department so our university is represented,” Woollen notes. “Even our athletics department has seasonal training where if you work at the stadium in any capacity, you are required to attend one day of training.” Preparation even extends to promotional items and fan giveaways, making sure it’s something nonthreatening or soft like a visor or hat. This was a lesson all sports security professionals no doubt learned after the 1979 fiasco at Comiskey Park where fans brought disco records to the ballpark to be blown up between a doubleheader between the Chicago White Sox and Detroit Tigers – better known as Disco Demolition Night. While many sports teams, organizations and leagues may not currently enjoy the same mostly peaceful environment as Woollen and the University of Oklahoma, that doesn’t mean they aren’t taking every necessary step to help them get there. GD

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TROUBLE ON THE HORIZON How to ensure the safety of fans, staff and participants when extreme weather threatens your sporting event.

As the Jones family gets settled back in, their attention turns from the scary behavior around them to the scary skies above them. Dark clouds have rolled in and the wind has picked up. Lightning is seen in the distance, and the Jones family debates seeking shelter in the concourse or waiting it out until they are notified by game officials.

Most fans are unaware of the threats being addressed or neutralized behind the scenes, but they are very aware of the scary threat that looms right in front of them – Mother Nature. Severe weather situations represent one of the most challenging safety scenarios for sports security professionals due to its unpredictability and its potential for prolonged escalation. When preparing for the most extreme or severe weather situations, sports security professionals focus on heavy storms and hurricanes (depending on their proximity to water), as well as tornadoes. These weather events can and have caused significant damage to sports venues over the years, but they are far from the only weather threat game-day operators face. “Weather is the main issue that we deal with here, and thankfully both the SEC and NCAA have policies and procedures in place to deal with that,” says Mike Gregory, Director of Special Events and Emergency Management Services at the University of Tennessee. The Jones family sees the lightning and wonders if they should take cover immediately. “If a lightning strike is within seven miles of the facility, the game is automatically stopped and we ask fans to vacate the seating area and hole up in the concourse until the storm passes,” says Gregory, whose background includes other major sporting events in the state of


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Tennessee, including the Music City Bowl and the SEC Basketball Tournament. Gregory also shares that the University of Tennessee has adjacent buildings that can be utilized in the event of a full-scale evacuation. “If there is a serious threat coming our way, we have adjacent buildings on campus that are designated emergency shelter facilities,” he notes. “We have signage in all of those and we have announcements over the public-address system and messages on the video board that would instruct our patrons to relocate to those locations.” Gregory recalls the 2011 football home opener between the University of Tennessee and the University of Montana that resulted in the longest weather delay in school history – the game was delayed 1 hour and 39 minutes – as lightning and high winds ripped through Knoxville and Neyland Stadium. “For that game, we had to close the gates and those inside the facility had to stay inside and those that we were waiting to come in had to be relocated to one of our shelters,” Gregory shares. Managing the more than 102,000 fans at Neyland Stadium comes with significant challenges, especially as panic and confusion can consume many of those fans in extreme weather situations. To successfully handle severe weather safety at a sports venue, it starts with having a little help from your friends.


STAND BY ME In addition to the staff employed full-time by a team or school, it’s important to also work closely with all applicable local agencies and organizations with an investment or expertise in safety and security. At the University of Tennessee, there is a full-time police force on campus that consists of approximately 56 full-time officers. Other key stakeholders involved in the planning process includes Knox County EMS, City of Knoxville Police, as well as the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency. When it comes to weather planning, another key partner for the University of Tennessee is the National Weather Service Office located in Morristown. “We have a great relationship with all our stakeholders, and they’re involved in every little detail with pretty much any planning we do,” says Gregory. “We hold weekly game-day meetings on Tuesday of every home football game. We go over schedule, the challenges we see, and we certainly look at the forecast.” Gregory also works with the security company that provide game-day ushers, requiring them to go through training once a year. Every other year, the University of Tennessee does a full-scale exercise, and in those off-years, a tabletop planning session will take place. “The more practice we can get around Neyland Stadium, we know the better we’re going to be if and when an incident happens,” Gregory says. When it comes to successful weather monitoring, not only is it about the right teams, but also the right tools, as well.

When it does reach a point where fans need to shelter-inplace due to extreme weather, Gregory, like most security professionals, relies on tried-and-true communication methods. “We’ll post messages on our video board and LED ribbon around the stadium, as well as through our public-address system,” he notes. “We have an internal stadium public address system and we have speakers that direct out into our sparking lots and tailgate areas. They are pretty loud – you can pretty much hear them off campus. And then we have general announcements that run every 30 minutes.” ABOVE ALL ELSE, STAY COOL The final piece of the weather-preparedness puzzle is the person staring back in the mirror, according to Gregory. “We’re all human, and when a situation occurs, people obviously think about themselves and their families, and that can be a hindrance,” he states. “When everything hits the fan, you have to stay calm and collected and do your job because if you do lose your composure, then the guests are going to sense that and that can have a ripple effect on the process.” By staying cool, following the processes and protocols put in place, and working closely with trusted local partners, even in the most adverse weather conditions, you can confidently see safe and sunny skies in your immediate future. GD

Monitor. Collaborate. Repeat.

Mr. and Mrs. Jones reassure their children that the home venue operators will notify them in some way if they need to take cover from the weather.

© 2017 Christie Digital Systems USA, Inc. All rights reserved.

TOOL TIME Sophisticated weather-monitoring devices are critical in successfully preparing for and managing potential extremeweather situations. The University of Tennessee utilizes a software through DTN Weather Monitoring that detects lightning and wind direction. It’s a technology the Vols are now utilizing across its four campuses, not only for athletics events, but for daily use, too. “Technology is vital to our success, and there are new technologies emerging every day,” Gregory shares. “We know what we have now may not be what’s needed in five or 10 years, but it’s vital and we’re always looking for the most cutting-edge product to try and stay ahead of the game.” Maintaining control in collaborative monitoring environments is crucial. Connect your team with Christie’s video wall solutions so they can detect problems before they can’t ignore them. Learn more at

CROWDED HOUSE How to maintain safe crowd movement in and out of – and around – sporting events.

The game has ended and the Jones family gathers its things and prepares to leave – at the same time as tens of thousands of other fans. Moving through the crowded concourse, the Jones family encounters aggressive fans all in a hurry to exit the venue. As they make their way out of the venue, they now seek a safe path to their car as an abundance of raucous fans and a steady stream of vehicles force the Jones family to take an extra cautious approach.

The City of Boston has been the epicenter for sports excellence recently, with two of its four professional sports teams – the Patriots and the Red Sox – winning championships within a few months of one another. But behind each celebration looms one of the greatest challenges to those tasked with protecting those events, controlling the crowd. Nobody understands the inherent challenges behind this task more than one of the City’s great security leaders, William Evans. Chief Evans, who formerly served as Commissioner of the Boston Police Department before retiring in July 2018, was a key figure in the manhunt to apprehend the Boston Marathon bombing suspects in 2013, as well as working closely with top security leaders to establish and implement security protocols and changes across various sporting events. “I’ve been deeply involved with crafting out a plan the last five years and making the whole soft tagging of a marathon secure,” Evans notes. “This includes more cameras, drone detectives, we have a lot more undercover detectives in the crowd, we do bag checks – security is number one anytime you have any type of crowd now.” Paul Foster, Founding Partner of FOAMHAND


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Limited, a leading crowd movement management specialist, has seen significant improvement in crowdmovement security over the past two decades following serious crowd incidents in the 80s and 90s, but he now notes the new threat surrounding venues. “What we have seen in the last few years is a marked increase in incidents immediately next to and around venues in the public, exclusive and outer zones,” Foster says, referencing the terrorist attacks at the Stade de France, in France in 2015, and the Manchester Arena bomb suicide attack in the United Kingdom. Boston had no shortage of targets as 1.5 million people attended the New England Patriots’ Super Bowl parade on February 5, 2019. Those crowd movement challenges at the parade mirror the highest level challenges stadium, arena and event operators face with large crowds arriving and departing. “You can do everything to secure the inside, but it’s the people approaching and departing the stadium that’s the biggest concern,” says Evans. “After an event when everyone leaves, it’s a little more chaotic. I think keeping the event itself secure is a lot easier than the unknowns of the crowd moving towards the stadium or the crowd leaving.”

CROWD MOVEMENT PLAN OF (NON) ATTACK According to Foster, before creating a crowdmanagement plan for an event, security professionals must consider two factors: demand and capacity. “You have to first think about how many people will be at the event, when and where are the peak crowds expected, and how much space is there throughout the whole spectator journey,” says Foster, a crowdmanagement leader and advisor for many high-profile events, including the London 2012 Olympics and the upcoming 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar. And as that plan is pulled together, the identification of every potential threat must be identified. Today, there is perhaps no bigger threat to fans and crowds than the rise in vehicular assaults. As the Jones family nears the cross-street to head home, a law enforcement group escorts them with other fans safely across the street as traffic is held up to ensure their safe crossing. Evans explains, “With these big events, you have to have the ballast and barriers in place to prevent people from driving into the crowd.” At the Super Bowl parade, snowplows were utilized on cross streets, and in his new position as Director of Public Safety and Chief of Police at Boston College, Evans and his team employs portable barriers around the perimeter. One of the key takeaways from so many successful celebrations – Boston has won 12 professional championships over the last 15 years – has been the value placed on the placement of portable barriers, which is as important as the barriers themselves, according to Evans. “You have to make sure the crowd goes into the areas so you can divvy up the crowd, which enables you to better handle them,” he notes. “You never want to get into a situation where you have a massive crowd with no policeman in the middle.” Specifically, Evans not only cites the importance of breaking out the crowds into quadrants or streets, but establishing crowd-movement checkpoints. “It’s important to have an orderly flow as people approach the stadium where everyone is watching them as they go through checkpoints,” shares Evans.

GETTING DEFENSIVE Technology also plays a key role as drones, for example, allow security teams to get a bird’s eye view of the crowd, as well as what is on rooftops. And of course, high-definition cameras allow operational center personnel to view crowd movement in real-time so something that might be out of the ordinary can be identified and addressed quicker. Foster mentions One Plan as another example of new technology poised to positively impact crowd safety. Launching in April 2019 and developed by worldwide crowd management experts, the event planning tool utilizes intuitive space planning and measurement tools to help event professionals plan a safer event, says Foster. “Quantities of temporary infrastructure, event overlay and services are automatically collated within One Plan, creating an event shopping list, which can be instantly sent to approved suppliers to provide quotes,” Foster shares. “This reduces the time taken and cost in finding quality suppliers in the area.” While enhanced tools and processes have and will continue to greatly enhance security, ensuring safe game environments, it is the pre- and postevent security that presents the biggest challenges – including how that security presence is perceived. “When a family of four comes in, they’re intimidated by the military looking organizations standing around the venue or stage. When we put on the Boston Marathon the year after the bombing, I made it clear I wanted it to look the same as the year before, but you walk a fine line,” Evans says, noting that many of the tactical assets were hiding behind doors or in garages. “We didn’t want to intimidate people where they didn’t feel comfortable going in. That’s always a security concern.” Foster offers one final piece of advice that all event owners and venues should follow to ensure the safest crowd-movement experience: “From the moment the spectator arrives, parks their vehicle, then all the way to their seat and back, every point of the spectator journey needs to be safe, secure and enjoyable,” he concludes. GD The Jones family makes its way to their car and joyfully heads back towards home, grateful for a fun – and safe – experience, one that they will never forget.

Event Management

XXXXXX Dek. Dek.

By Paul Steinbach

I Photo Credit

magine that you’ve just tested your pool water and found it to be — the actual numbers are irrelevant to the story — just fine. A member approaches you 10 minutes later, still in her bathing suit, dripping water on your shoes, and says, “The pH in the pool is high.” You say, “I just checked it and it seemed fine, but I’m happy to look into it,” even though you’d rather say, “Really? You must be a human chemical testing kit, because the water is actually perfect!” At that moment, would you rather be in the fitness business, or on a beach someplace?


Paul Steinbach (, @ SteinbachPaul) is senior editor of Gameday Security.

Event Management

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