July 24, 2014  

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National Forum Highlights Challenges/Solutions of Open Access Events

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National Center for Spectator Sports Safety and Security Conference and Exhibition featured a National Forum titled, “Maintaining Safety and Security at Open Access Sporting Events: Different Challenges, Same Principles." (Submitted photo)

In response to the Boston Marathon bombings on April 15, this year’s National Forum, “Maintaining Safety and Security at Open Access Sporting Events: Different Challenges, Same Principles,” provided attendees with a set of protective measures to establish more secure environments at events with open access areas.

Sponsored by Raytheon, the two-hour National Forum took place during the opening day of the 4th annual National Center for Spectator Sports Safety and Security (NCS4) Conference and Exhibition on July 16 in Orlando, Fla.

Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) representing events which include marathons, triathlons, auto racing, golf, parades, festivals, and tailgating were on hand to begin the conversation at the National Forum. They addressed the unique safety and security challenges facing event operators, law enforcement, and first responders at events with open access areas.

Led by moderator Dave Scott, general manager for US Road Sports & Entertainment of Florida and race director for the Miami Marathon, as well as president of Stadium Managers Association, participants examined the challenges that open access sporting events face. While many of the problems discussed were seen at stadiums and arenas as well – such as perimeter control and baggage screeningopen access sporting events face added pressure because their perimeter may be much larger than a physical venue and more easily penetrable.

Bags are regularly checked at venues yet at open access sporting events, such as at marathons, event security may be responsible for supervising thousands of bags left by runners during the event.

While it was important for SMEs and attendees to discuss the challenges facing open access sporting events, the latter half of the program examined what should be done to solve some of the problems addressed.

SMEs worked with attendees to create a list of solutions. Among the solutions discussed included increasing communication efforts with fans, increasing training, and becoming better prepared for both man-made threats and weather-related events.

“This topic will be an ongoing discussion to address other challenges and how best to implement solutions,” said Alana Penza, Director of the NCS4’s Institute for the Study of Sports Incidents (ISSI). “Those interested may contact me through our website.”

The NCS4 is located at The University of Southern Mississippi’s Hattiesburg campus.

The National Forum was hosted by ISSI, in conjunction with the Stadium Managers Association.

For more information about NCS4, visit http://www.ncs4.com.