When the Mercedez-Benz Stadium was being built, leadership at AMB Sports & Entertainment decided to aim high when it comes to the quality of experience for fans attending events and games there. One key factor to becoming an “elite” venue, says Joe Coomer, CSSP, Vice President, Security, AMB Sports & Entertainment, was the game day associates – including parking attendants, ushers, beer vendors, the popcorn guy and, of course, the security staff.

Coomer and his team surveyed security staff to find out what their key drivers were for retention, and it boiled down to three main factors: pay, parking and food.

As a result, AMB Sports & Entertainment reevaluated their security officer pay scale, making it highly competitive for those responsibilities within the Atlanta area, which drew the attention of a new level of security officer – many of whom have professional careers elsewhere as doctors, lawyers, firemen and can bring those skills to their jobs at the stadium, Coomer says.

The state of Georgia requires 24 hours of training, so security companies providing officers to the stadium have to provide that training as a baseline for incoming officers, and then customer service training and on-site walkthroughs are provided.

On an ongoing basis, Coomer has a third-party application running monthly background checks on security officers to maintain awareness into the staff and potential risks.

“At the Georgia Dome, if we had 100 people apply for a job working security, only seven actually made it through the application process and training to their first day of work. We need that officer to work 100 hours before we see any return on investment, so how do we get that? Do we help with parking, where we offer stipends to help them offset travel to the stadium or parking at the stadium? We allow them to come to the stadium 90 minutes prior to their shift for free food, and then you get half-off stadium pricing during the event with your badge. We also have an incentive program, so the more hours or events you work at the stadium, you can get bonuses.

“We also do a lot in our quality control program, where we’re testing our processes and not just correcting bad behavior, but rewarding good behavior. It’s the officer’s job to catch fake credentials. If they don’t catch it, that’s a coaching and training opportunity. But if they do, they get a reward. That word gets out, and that makes them work harder to catch the next one, and that news spreads like wildfire,” Coomer says.

 All this investment is paying off. According to a third-party fan survey, Mercedes-Benz Stadium ranked #1 in security overall. “We want to hire the right people, give them the right training, and once they’re out in the field – we want to make sure they’re using that training to provide a better guest experience,” Coomer adds.