Stadium prepared for extra security measures

By Katie Valentine, Staff Writer

Although Rice-Eccles Stadium doesn’t face any immediate terror threats, the government released a nationwide advisory this week for all sporting and entertainment venues to be wary about potential terrorist attacks.

Stadium administrators held a production meeting Thursday to go over all the event’s security details. The meeting comes on the heels of this week’s indictment against Najibullah Zazi of Colorado, whom the FBI detained over the weekend for plotting to set off a weapon of mass destruction in a public place.

On game day, the outside of the stadium is searched for anything suspicious. Within 10 minutes of kick-off, an evacuation video is played so fans know where and how to exit the stadium. Fans coming into the stadium have their bags searched for prohibited items. If there was a terrorist attack or some other criminal emergency, U Police Chief Scott Folsom said he feels confident in getting a handle on the situation.

The measures taken before the game to reduce the risk of malicious activity are considered reasonable at the current threat level, which has been about the same since Sept. 11, 2001, said Mark Burk, director of stadium and arena services.

Twice a year, Dave Wakefield, events manager for Rice-Eccles Stadium, meets with representatives from all the other regional sports venues to go over ideas for better security. Last summer, Wakefield, Burk and members of their staff attended a Homeland Security-funded stadium security training conference at BYU.

“I’m very comfortable that we have the ability to take care of business,” Folsom said.
One of the newest security features is the UFAN phone system. It lets spectators report anything going on around them that security might not see. Spectators text their location and a brief description to 801-784-UFAN(8326). The text is received in a command center in the stadium’s tower and routed to the security detail.

At the Utah State game Sept. 3, security responded to 93 incidents, about a quarter of which were reported by spectators. Of those, they ejected 26 people from the game, and 35 incidents were alcohol-related.

Forty-five security cameras watch the stadium seats. The film is rewatched after each game and security picks out problem areas, which are watched more closely during the next game.

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