The NFL's Protection Prototype

A complicated surveillance system has made Cleveland Browns Stadium the NFL's ‘Model for Security Operations'


Things have changed dramatically since 1946 when the Cleveland Browns first planted their roots on the shores of Lake Erie at Cleveland Municipal Stadium. The city of Cleveland lost the original team in 1995, when the Browns relocated to Baltimore . Four years later in 1999, the National Football League granted the city a new franchise, which came with a new facility – Cleveland Browns Stadium. It signified the dawn of a new beginning for the city and its football team.

Cleveland Browns Stadium is a tremendous facility occupying approximately 1.64 million square-feet with a seating capacity of 73,200. Amenities include 12 ticket windows, 41 restrooms and more than 100 concession stands, as well as back operations with locker rooms, lounges, offices and an infrastructure to support a small city. The technology employed to keep the stadium running smoothly and efficiently is both extensive and innovative on many fronts – including a heated playing field to extend the growing season of the Kentucky bluegrass and help keep the field from freezing late in the season when snow and wind sends temperatures plunging.

Keeping tabs on every movement within the massive structure is a Panasonic security system under the management of Cleveland Browns Stadium security manager Ross Benjamin. “Our security command center was installed during the latter phase of construction and included a sufficient number of cameras with an analog recording system,” Benjamin says. “But as time passed, we continually encountered situations that required video surveillance on a 24/7 basis for both game days and non-game days. This required us to look at ways we could increase our coverage with more advanced features and capabilities.

“This process started almost immediately after the first year of operations in the new facility,” Benjamin continues. “We identified recurring problems and the issues related with a continual stream of pedestrian and vehicular traffic. It became apparent very early that we needed more cameras to give us eyes where we couldn't necessarily put people. It also helped us to clearly identify our primary security objectives: protect our fans, players and employees; reduce liability; help deter criminal activity; and apprehend and prosecute offenders.”

Before a new video surveillance system could be specified, Benjamin and his team needed to perform an extensive internal audit of their security needs based on their actual experiences in the facility. They also called upon the services of Panasonic Authorized Dealer Integration Logistics LLC, to help identify camera locations and coverage assignments. “Recorded evidence needs to be indisputable for prosecution, so we wanted to deploy a system that could capture and record as much information as possible,” Benjamin says.

Benjamin and his team paid close attention to entry and egress routes for both pedestrians and vehicles covering areas within and outside the massive structure and surrounding grounds. Particular attention was focused on the four main gates, where fans enter and exit events at the stadium. “The gates are the areas where we typically experience the most instances of people trying to illegally enter the facility on game days and off days,” Benjamin says. “This is really more of an issue on off days, when we do not have personnel manning the gate areas and security personnel may not be in the immediate area where an intrusion is taking place.”

A combination of Panasonic dome systems and fixed cameras are strategically positioned around the exterior of Cleveland Browns Stadium to provide comprehensive coverage of the facility's exterior. “We can actually identify and track individuals outside of the stadium and dispatch guards and police as soon as we believe activity is about to take place,” Benjamin says. “This allows us to operate efficiently and deploy personnel when and where they are most needed.

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