Editor's note: This story originally appeared in Sports Venue Safety, a new supplement to Athletic Business. View the entire Sports Venue Safety digital issue here.

The potential of a major incident at your facility can keep you up late at night. While it may seem futile and fruitless to work through incident scenarios in your mind, it is often the first step toward preparation, training and gaining the support necessary to handle any issue. In my career as a facility manager and athletic administrator, I have encountered a variety of real-life emergency scenarios, including:

  • A drunk and belligerent parent just released from prison coming to a wrestling match to watch his son
  • Drug use by a semi-professional team in a locker room following a game at my facility
  • Lights going out in the middle of a dark and stormy fall high school football game
  • Finding a loaded gun in the parking lot that had fallen out of a fan's car
  • Pepper spray being dispersed from a purse by accident
  • Broken goal post, backboard, soccer goal — and the harm that potentially could or did result
  • Parent disruption during a youth sports event — between parents or between parents and officials
  • Cancellation of an event due to a visiting team's bus breaking down or catching on fire
  • A medical emergency involving a game participant or spectator requiring attention from a first-responder, use of an AED or first aid


This past year, our facility converted a softball field on our complex in Hillsboro, Ore., to a 3,600-seat Single A professional baseball stadium. This new facility matched an existing 7,200-seat football, soccer, lacrosse and softball/baseball stadium next door.

The conversion came with numerous safety challenges, including the high volume of spectators. The team that we partnered with, the Hillsboro Hops, had approximately 135,000 spectators eager to support the only professional baseball team in the Portland metro area. Having so many fans pass through our facility over such a short period of time caused us to reexamine our current emergency and evacuation plan so that we would be ready for any scenario our facility faced.

RELATED: Tightening Front-Line Security in Stadiums and Arenas

Our reflections on our readiness for emergency and evacuation planning led us toward a several-month effort that involved full- and part-time staff, first-responders (police and fire), city staff in emergency management, and school district personnel who frequented our facility. We had a fairly simple existing plan to work from, and after finding an example, we began the process of creating and refining a practical and hands-on emergency and evacuation plan.

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