Stadium & Arena Security

The director of the Center for Spectator Sports Security Management outlines strategies for overall security planning and implementing management systems


There is no room for security complacency in the post-9/11 world. Professional and collegiate stadiums and arenas are identified by the Department of Homeland Security as potential targets for terrorist activity. Sport managers have many complex problems relative to emergency incidents, including large crowds, a part-time work force, heavy traffic flow, aviation concerns and live television broadcasts.

Effective Planning and Management Systems
It is critical for sport managers to be cognizant of their capabilities to better respond and recover from man-made or natural incidents by being security-minded and more prepared than ever. Although there is no assurance of absolute security in combating the threat of incidents, effective planning and management systems can reduce the risk to as low as reasonably practicable while reassuring customers, employees and participants that the administration is serious about their safety and security.

Preparing for worst-case scenarios must be addressed within a facility’s safety and security operational plan. Calling 911 is not a plan or option. Hard lessons learned from the past have forced us to recognize the need for more efficient planning, knowledge of on-site resources and understanding of a pre-designed crisis communication protocol around a facility’s command post.

The Planning Process
How do you plan effectively for securing a stadium or arena? This process will assist an operation staff in mitigating liability risks, and reduce the chance of error should a disaster incident occur. Effective planning is essential in security management if the desired result is to build and maintain a system which will incorporate optimal processes developed by highly-trained professionals representing every component of security and emergency management.

The National Incident Management System (NIMS), The National Response Framework (NRF), and The Incident Command System (ICS) each provide valuable guidelines for “preparedness” and compliance about which anyone involved in security management should be fully aware.

Your Team: A good process for the development of an effective safety and security planning involves the input from various staff employees and local, state and federal agencies. A key recommendation in the process is a commitment from management to establish the leadership role of a staff security coordinator for the development and implementation of a safety and security plan. The coordinator should have prior experience in law enforcement or professional event management, because he or she will assume responsibility for key security areas; coordinate the production of the safety and security plan; formulate and maintain search procedures and auxiliary plans dealing with bomb threats, suspect packages and evacuation; liaison with local authorities; develop staff and training regimens; and conduct regular exercises and plan maintenance.

A major function of the coordinator is to form a planning team and establish a schedule and budget. This team will be responsible for the review of existing facility plans and procedures; identification of standards, codes and regulations that apply to the facility; and interfacing with outside agencies and groups to identify all resources and capabilities required to support the securing of the stadiums and arenas.

Facility Emergency Plan
The overall goal is to produce a facility emergency action plan that will be fully exercised and subject to regular audits. Such a plan should address the following:
• Event preparation;
• Incident response, including bomb threats, mechanical problems, structural problems, fire, suspect packages or vehicles, isolated attacks, catastrophic large-scale attacks, unauthorized entry into facility and power failure;
• Evacuation or shelter-in-place;
• Communications; and
• Recovery.

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