ACC

Sports arenas heighten security after Paris attacks

Event staff employees scan fans as they enter Bank of America Stadium prior to a Carolina Panthers preseason game against the Chicago Bears in August 2013. The ACC announced Friday that security measures for the 2015 ACC Championship Game at the stadium will mirror those taken for Panthers games.
Event staff employees scan fans as they enter Bank of America Stadium prior to a Carolina Panthers preseason game against the Chicago Bears in August 2013. The ACC announced Friday that security measures for the 2015 ACC Championship Game at the stadium will mirror those taken for Panthers games. jsiner@charlotteobserver.com

The terrorist attacks in Paris, including bomb detonations outside the Stade de France soccer stadium, have heightened security measures at sports venues in the Triangle and the state.

Fans attending N.C. State’s football game Saturday against Syracuse will encounter closer inspections of their bags, jackets and belongings, and are being instructed to come early. Fans are being encouraged not to bring bags to the game, but those who do are being advised to use clear, plastic bags.

NCSU athletic department officials say there will be added security, inside and outside the stadium. Fans will be allowed to leave the game at halftime, but again will need more time to go through security when they re-enter the stadium.

“We’re taking every precaution to have a safe environment for the fans and everyone,” N.C. State athletic spokesman Fred Demarest said Friday. “We want to be proactive and let our fans know ahead of time so they can anticipate what will happen. And it’s the right thing to do.”

Davin Olsen, general manager of PNC Arena, said the Carolina Hurricanes and other NHL teams received an advisory from the league “that everyone step up their game” in terms of security.

Olsen said added security measures have been taken at the arena for Canes games and N.C. State basketball games, although saying he could not divulge any specifics.

“We’ve adapted a few things,” he said. “What the patrons will see will be business as usual and they won’t notice anything different. But we’ve taken some measures we have not taken in the past.”

Some of the best security measures may be the eyes and ears of our patrons and employees.

Davin Olsen, general manager of PNC Arena

The NHL this year has mandated walk-through metal detectors at all league venues. They were installed at PNC Arena in 2004, Olsen said, for the NHL Draft and have remained.

North Carolina and Duke have played their final home football games. Duke spokesman Art Chase said the university will evaluate security operations at Wallace Wade Stadium in the coming months in preparation for the 2016 season, and that added security measures now are being implemented for basketball games at Cameron Indoor Stadium.

At UNC, athletic department spokesman Steve Kirschner said security was “stepped up” for last week’s final home football game against Miami at Kenan Stadium.

“Our game operations people are discussing this and will continue to discuss it,” Kirschner said, without offering specifics. “We will continue to monitor what’s going on and will get advice from Homeland Security experts as to what to do. Any time you have 50,000 people on your campus at an event, the No. 1 priority is their safety.”

The ACC announced Friday that security measures taken for the 2015 ACC Championship Game at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte would mirror those taken for Carolina Panthers games.

A clear-bag policy will be enforced, the ACC said, and fans are being told to come earlier than usual.

Kirschner said since the terrorists attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, schools such as UNC have implemented more security measures at all sports events, including those in the Smith Center. The Paris attacks, he said, “Raises the sensitivity level even more and heightens attention to detail.”

In Paris, suicide bombers detonated explosives outside Stade de France before a soccer game between France and Germany at the 80,000-seat stadium, with French president François Hollande in attendance. It was reported one of the suicide bombers had a ticket to the game but was prevented from entering the stadium and then detonated an explosive vest.

Olsen said the Department of Homeland Security has posted a public service announcement entitled “If You See Something, Say Something.” The PSA, sponsored by the NHL, Major League Baseball, NFL, NBA and Major League Soccer, encourages fans to report suspicious activity at games to law enforcement personnel or arena officials.

“Some of the best security measures may be the eyes and ears of our patrons and employees,” Olsen said.

N.C. State said the new security measures also will be in effect for the final home game next week against North Carolina. Gates again will open two hours prior to kickoff and fans will go through enhanced checks of belongings, including coats and outerwear.

Chip Alexander: 919-829-8945, @ice_chip

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