NCS4 was in full swing today with the first full day of exhibits, keynotes, panels and the new “breakout sessions” – a popular request from conference attendees last year.

These sessions allow attendees to become participants instead of spectators, as industry leading moderators lead the discussions on Professional Sport Facility Operations – Managing Safety in Parking Lots and Extensions of the Venue Event; Emergency Management/Fire/EMS/First Responders – Unified Planning; Collegiate Sport Facility Operations – Evacuations; and Law Enforcement – Crowd Control in Different Situations.

The interactive, facilitated discussions provided a forum for the participants to ask questions about security protocols that, perhaps, they are having trouble with in their own venues, or even if they just wanted additional perspective on a problem from their peers.

I attended the session on parking lots, and much of the conversation revolved around securing entrepreneurial lots, as in those not owned by the venue, and how to mitigate risks from un- or under-regulated fans coming to the event from those lots.

“You own the problem that comes inside your gates,” said session mediator Paul Turner, Director of Event Operations at Cowboy Stadium. “You might as well work to control it outside the gates too.”

Many of these satellite lots, participants said, are not looking at all of the risk factors involved in securing a sports event, especially when it comes to tailgating, alcohol control and crime prevention.

Among the many solutions discussed during the nearly two-hour program was the idea to invite satellite lot owners to attend and participate in venue training and education, with the thought that by giving the owners the background information and knowledge of what’s expected of fans once they pass through the gates, as well as sharing best practices on how to mitigate risks and control situations.

Some participants also suggested that if these lot owners knew all of the risks they might be much more receptive to requests or suggestions from event security directors. Informing them of  all the liabilities they face by, for example, not monitoring the lot or having any form of security on hand, or not providing adequate shuttle services back from the game, can be used to bring them back to the table with venue operators.