>Fixed decorative bollards encircle this baseball stadium, keeping out terrorists or errant drivers.

During the height of football, baseball, soccer, basketball, hockey – you name the sport, millions of people are packing into a concentrated area. It could be the perfect target for mass casualties and, with the revenue that sporting events generate, a security breach could have an enormous economic impact.

The United States Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has identified sports stadiums and arenas as potential targets of terrorism. For security managers at major sporting events, peak performance is no longer the only game day focus.

The University of Southern Mississippi’s National Center for Spectator Sports Safety and Security (NCS4) at the university, (instead of at the University of Southern Mississippi, home of the Golden Eagles, is enhancing security and safety of sporting events. Through grants from the Mississippi Office of Homeland Security, for example, it provides research, education and other programs to enhance the level of preparedness at sporting venues nationwide. It recently received a $75,000 grant from the Mississippi Office of Homeland Security to help fund a pilot program for sports security supervisor training, for example.

The lab at the center tests security products specifically designed for sporting events, develops new software tools related to sports security and trains future sport security personnel. Then it’s time for game day testing. For example, it recently conducted real-time testing and evaluation of surveillance technology in conjunction with a Golden Eagles’ home football game against the University of Tulsa late last year. The game-day test began with an initial scenario approximately 3½ hours before the kickoff and continued until the final phase was completed during the first quarter.

Dr. Lou Marciani, the director of NCS4, says, “There’s really a two-pronged payoff to what we’re doing with this lab experiment. On one hand we get to test the protocols and procedures we’ve been working on here at the National Center for the past two years. But we’re also providing a test lab for these companies to determine whether or not equipment can perform exactly as advertised.”

But before fans even get into a stadium, Marciani and his team are looking at the perimeters, including ensuring that there are at least five layers of perimeter security, including:

1. An adjacency layer that extends to the parking areas and that is not yet within the “official” screening perimeter. These are generally outside a radius of 75 yards of the portal.
2. An initial screening perimeter that has distributed staff and technology to identify anomalies in the incoming crowd, such as oversized bags, objects of concern, or suspicious behavior. The intent, says Dr. Marciani, is to direct those individuals to more comprehensive detailed screening lanes or to direct them back to parking areas to discard that baggage or the objects.
3. A detail screening area that performs bag checks and pat-downs of arriving ticketholders.
4. An entry layer for ticket taking that may be turnstile based or opened with personnel scanning tickets for entrance into the stadium.
5. An anomaly area with law enforcement support to take people carrying suspicious contraband or who require more investigation.

Security Seal of Approval

Wayne Hedrick is director of safety and security compliance for the Southern Miss Athletic Department. Hedrick is a retired FBI agent of 25 years who has spent time working with the Secret Service, Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, just to name a few. He joined Southern Miss to work with NCS4. At Southern Miss, Hedrick sums up his role, which is “to do whatever needs to be done” to ensure game day security.

“If you look at any athletic department, you will see associate and assistant athletic directors in charge of a lot of different responsibilities; but you won’t find anyone who works strictly with safety and security,” Hedrick says. “The idea behind my position is someone responsible for spectator safety and all who are involved in game day.”

After joining Southern Miss Athletics, Hedrick said the first thing he identified was the need for a game day operation plan for M.M. Roberts Stadium. That includes listing all individuals who play a part in game day, from athletics to ushers. It also included evaluating how the stadium’s perimeter was protected.

M.M. Roberts Stadium already has undergone a security transformation as the first university stadium in the nation to meet the security requirements for the Sports Event Security Aware Seal of Approval by NCS4.

As such, security officials now have an emergency plan for evacuation, lockdowns before games, better credentialing, early positioning of security officials inside and outside game perimeter protection.
“People will notice more police present, because we have enlarged the facility, and a more professional staff,” says University Police Chief Bob Hopkins, adding that the university works with a company that provides support staff with security awareness training.

Under Hedrick’s guidance and leadership for Southern Miss football and other athletic events throughout the year, evacuation plans have been enhanced for the stadium, the coliseum and baseball field, including an increase in emergency drills, tabletop exercises, updates on emergency scenarios and including more surrounding area emergency officials for multi-agency collaboration – an initiative that NCS4 officials emphasize when training on spectator safety at sports events.

Assuring Truck- and Car-Bombers Strike Out

In creating new stadiums or refurbishing present sites, sports organizations are making security a prime requisite. One recent project involved securing a new urban Major League baseball stadium. A multi-level approach was used to protect against car- and truck-bomb attack as well as guarding against errant drivers. Vehicle access control devices included crash-rated shallow foundation bollards, surface mount barricades and gates.

However, since stadium construction works on a fast and rigid schedule, the other half was getting the project completed within a short time frame. Opening day was set a year in advance with fans planning to show up on that day. Satisfying all of the stakeholders, including security engineers, owners, city planning, police commissioners, architects, construction management and contractors took time and patience.

The first line of defense on the project was to encircle the entire stadium to make sure that terrorists or errant drivers could not get to the stadium facility itself. At the same time, though, there had to be the consideration that the bollards were being installed in an area with infrastructure networks below ground. As there would be no need for them to ever be lowered to let any vehicle through, shallow foundation fixed bollards were used. The modules also meet the 1-meter clearance regulations mandated by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

Shallow foundation bollards from Delta Scientific were installed, which can be arrayed in whatever length is required, and will stop and destroy a 15,000-pound truck traveling 50 miles per hour. Their shallow foundation means that there are no concerns about interference with buried water, gas and fuel pipes, storm drains, power lines and fiber optic communication lines. Vehicle entrances to the stadium, controlled and protected using Delta surface-mounted surface mount vehicle barricades that will stop a 15,000 pound vehicle going 40 mph, are kept in an upright position and lowered to let a vehicle through. They don’t require a foundation except a cement slab.

In addition, the ballpark is using electro-mechanical version barricades that plug into a120v/15A wall socket and will stop a 15,000 pound vehicle going 38 mph. The vehicle stopping structure of the gate is the lower section and, at this Ballpark, sliding gates with a low height are aesthetically pleasing while still providing security protection.