Blog: Why Sports Franchies Must Invest in Security

The Boston Marathon bombings changed the face of the sports and entertainment industry. That tragic day raised new challenges in protecting athletic and open-air events, but it also had an impact on the business and marketing aspects of the industry.

Author James DeMeo is a retired detective with the Nassau County Police Department in Long Island, New York and has 24 years of experience in the law enforcement and security industries.Author James DeMeo is a retired detective with the Nassau County Police Department in Long Island, New York and has 24 years of experience in the law enforcement and security industries.The sports and entertainment industry today is a multi-billion dollar enterprise. Secured television contracts, sponsorship agreements and venue naming rights make marketing executives glow with excitement as they look to expand the visibility of their respective brands and reap the benefits of increased profit margins that come along with it. However, sports marketing executives face serious challenges beginning with risk mitigation and brand protection, particularly at sporting venues and stadiums. It’s an issue that causes these executives many sleepless nights.

Why you ask? The last thing any ownership or investment group wants is to have an adverse incident occur within their stadium. Hard or soft targets, such as a stadium or open-access event like a marathon, cause equal concerns for both marketing and security personnel. The question begs: Are ownership groups spending anywhere near enough money on security training and initiatives?

Today's sports and entertainment industry has what I consider the following synergy: The 3 C's: Crossover. Congruence. Connectivity.

 A nexus virtually exists between sports finance/marketing groups and sports security professionals. C-suite level executives have now afforded security and venue directors a “seat at the table” during operational and planning discussions. These ownership executives have realized that any adverse situation can potentially damage an organization’s reputation.

Furthermore, sports marketers face additional challenges with getting fans to attend events these days. With more fans opting to watch sporting events from the comfort of their own living room in crystal clear high definition, without the expense or time commitment of attending in-person, getting fans to games is more difficult than ever. Ownership groups know that the fans that do choose to attend need to have a good experience. One ugly experience — a brawl or fight, a fire, explosion, drone attack, weather emergency, you name it — is all it takes for a fan to be turned off and never return. Not to mention, the loss of life is the most important concern. All of these scenarios are direct threats to an organization’s brand and its bottom line.

Mitigating inherent risks associated with operating a venue is a paramount duty for security staff. We have seen the financial fallout when ownership groups skimp on security. The LA Dodgers lost a multi-million dollar judgment due to a fan violence situation last year. Lack of security was cited as being a contributing factor with the ownership group being held partially financially responsible for punitive damages in the case.

In the sports security profession, there exists a general rule of thumb regarding effective security deployment; the 1/250 rule. This rule states that for every 250 patrons in attendance, the venue should counter with 1 highly trained security staff member being assigned to work the event. With profit margins being so tight, venue ownership groups don't always follow this rule. However, ownership groups take do take a more proactive approach with enhanced security staff training, education, and certifications for their security personnel will have greater success reducing these inherent liabilities. Increased training means a better security product for fans and higher morale, better focus, greater venue familiarity, and reduced employee turnover for staff members.

In summary, the mission of any security initiative is to protect fans without being overbearing or creating a police state. Ownership groups need to realize there is no getting around the need to spend money on security. Security and asset protection is a proactive discipline. Reactionary measures will not suffice in these challenging times.

We want to know your thoughts on event security. How can we make today’s events safer without sacrificing the gameday experience? Tell us your thoughts. The more fans and security are on the same page, the more enjoyable and safer your overall fan experience will be. After all you are the one paying for a great sporting experience. You certainly deserve nothing less.

Author James A.DeMeo is a retired detective with the Nassau County Police Department in Long Island, New York and has 24 years of experience in the law enforcement and security industries. DeMeo has been featured as a security expert in Pan Stadia Magazine and Security Magazine. For more information, connect with him on LinkedIn.

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