We had an important responsibility, he told arena event-day staff this week. We see bags, we see behavior, we see the look in someone’s eye. We have the safety of thousands of patrons in our hands.
He needed to know, can we handle that?
In the wake of the Boston terror attacks, caused by explosive devices hidden inside a backpack or duffel, regional officials from the federal Department of Homeland Security visited venues around the state. The fact that Webster Bank Arena is a popular destination makes us a target, as venues around the world have known known since 9/11.
All patrons entering Webster Bank Arena have their bags checked and their body wanded. It’s been like that for more than a decade. Most of the time, we remind people that outside food and beverages are not allowed in. Sometimes, we ask people to take their pocket knives back to the car. Rarely, an off-duty law enforcement officer is reminded we don’t allow concealed weapons in the building.
Now, after Boston, things are changing. We have closed one of the three main entrances to the building. All patrons now must enter through the two front sets of doors. A table is set up, bags are checked thoroughly and patrons are searched. An inconvenience? Yes. Understandable? Of course.
We recently installed a new surveillance camera system that watched the plaza and exterior locations. We’re considering better monitoring in the building.
On Tuesday, the Sound Tigers played a blizzard make-up game. The crowd was light, but the new procedures were in place. Our fans understood the rules and realized it was for everyone’s safety. For future, more busy events, it will cause some delays. But it’s the world we live in.
The man from Homeland Security watched and he was pleased.
We can handle it.