NASCAR President Mike Helton offered a salient question to a packed crowd on the opening day of the 2011 National Sports Safety and Security Conference and Exhibition in New Orleans.
“How do you place a value on being safe?” asked Helton, who delivered one of the keynote addresses to those gathered at the Roosevelt Hotel for the three-day conference. “For us in the sports industry, we have to be able to sleep at night knowing we did everything possible to keep our fans safe.”
More than 400 security professionals are expected to attend the conference which also features 56 vendor exhibits. The conference is sponsored by the National Center for Spectator Sports Safety and Security (NCS4) at The University of Southern Mississippi in Hattiesburg, Miss.
Southern Miss President Martha Saunders emphasized the importance of the work being done at NCS4 and beyond in her opening remarks.
“NCS4 is the recognized leader in sports safety and security in this country and we are proud of the training and research being conducted there,” said Saunders. “All of you here are doing important work and I trust that your experience over the next three days of this conference will help you acquire new ideas and practices that will translate into better safety and security for all of us.”
Helton, a Bristol, Va., native, assumed the role of NASCAR president in 2000, succeeding longtime chief Bill France Jr. Helton serves as a member of NASCAR’s Board of Directors and is also a member of the organization’s Executive Council.
Helton pointed out that 17 of the top 20 sporting events every year, attendance-wise, are NASCAR races. With crowds topping 100,000 on any given weekend, Helton says safety ranks as his organization’s top priority.
“It’s a work in progress and our goal has always been to create an environment that provides the best fan experience possible,” said Helton. “And that includes being safe and secure.”
The 2011 National Sports Safety and Security Conference and Exhibition wraps up Thursday, Aug. 4 with a keynote address by noted author Amanda Ripley and presentation of the Facility Achievement Awards. For more information about NCS4 call 601.266.6183 or visit www.NCS4.com