Staff retention, fan behavior and security wait times are among the top challenges for stadium security, according to venue security directors.
The National Center for Spectator Sports Safety and Security (NCS4) surveyed 40 venue security directors across the National Basketball Association (NBA), National Football League (NFL), Major League Baseball (MLB), Major League Soccer (MLS) and National Hockey League (NHL) about the state of venue security at their facilities.
Respondents shared what strains their security team, as well as how they mitigate security incidents and what technologies they put in place in their facilities.
Stadium security challenges
According to 95% of the venue security leaders surveyed, staffing shortages represent a challenge to their security function. Common causes of these shortages are COVID-19 (86.8%), employee absenteeism (84.2%), and a lack of qualified applicants (60.5%). With nearly all venues experiencing shortages, venues have instituted employee incentives, such as higher hourly wages, complimentary food and discounted ticket prices for security professionals.
Another challenge facing sports stadium security leaders is an increase in poor spectator behavior. One-quarter of respondents reported that fan behavior is "much worse" than 10 years ago, while an additional 40% ranked current fan behavior as "worse." The most common problematic behaviors at stadiums include alcohol abuse, fights between patrons and property damage. To mitigate these issues and increase awareness around acceptable behavior, venue security leaders used ejection and alcohol policies (100%), signage (97.5%), public address (PA) announcements (95%) and barriers (92.5%).
Venue security technologies
Stadium security leaders also turned to technology to prevent and mitigate security incidents. All respondents reported having CCTV systems, electronic ticketing, explosives detection K9 units, stationary bollards, signage, and metal detectors put in place to aid facility security. Other common security technologies include:
- Antivirus software
- Mobile communications
- PA systems
- Social media messaging
- Two-way radios
The above technologies were used by 97.5% of respondents. Patron screening technology is used at 87.5% of surveyed facilities, and security leaders ranked decreasing wait times without sacrificing security as their top priority for patron screening.
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