Finding the balance that makes fans at large athletic events feel both safe and welcomed will evolve as technology develops, according to a panel of event safety specialists at Soccerex USA. Soccerex USA gathered hundreds of soccer industry experts in Miami to share experiences. The panel on security was moderated by Melissa Odegaard, S2 Global’s director of marketing, and included Andy Lynch, S2 Event Security’s security operations program manager.
“We are in entertainment,” said Joe Cicini, formerly with the FBI and now director of security for the Miami Dolphins. “We have to keep that in mind. We want them to come back.” Mike Bracci, security director at Marlins Stadium, agreed, noting that fans should not “feel like they are going into the Pentagon or the White House.”
Members of the panel also agreed that communicating with spectators frequently throughout the process can help set expectations for attendees in terms of bag screening policies and other logistics they will encounter as they navigate the stadium environment. Eoghan Gill, chief commercial officer for FOAMHAND, said, “The communications piece starts from home as soon as someone decides to buy a ticket.” Liz Leckemby, assistant vice president with Bruno Event Team, said, “Twitter is our best friend on game day.” Fans will assess whether they are having a great experience all the way through the process, she noted.
Technological advances in analytics and biometrics have the potential to be a game-changer. The Dolphins’ Cicini said these methodologies could enable teams to establish trusted fan programs that streamline the screening process and also provide those fans with a personalized experience once they are inside the venue. Facial recognition could soon become the norm, said the Marlins’ Bracci. “You want to know who is coming into your building,” employees included, especially those with access to critical infrastructure.
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