Threats of Sport Events Accelerate Stadium Security Market

Threats of Sport Events Accelerate Stadium Security Market

- Stadium security provides a very big market opportunity for manufacturers and integrators, and it's growing by nearly 8 percent each year

- Large-scale events are targets for a broader swath of threats than ‘regular' sporting events.

- Multiple areas, entrances, locations are challenges for security deployment

Current security spending on global sports is US$2 billion from cities, teams and schools worldwide, according to ESPN. In emerging markets, more cities are hosting large sports events.

Sporting events are highly susceptible to volatility. One contributing factor is the emotional state of crowds. People are highly invested in the victory of their preferred teams. These emotions are often further intensified by those around, and sometimes the influence of alcohol, as many an American football game attendee will attest to. Sometimes these emotions can lead to destructive behavior. In 2010, the Canadian city of Vancouver saw rioting following the home team loss of a championship hockey game.

To combat such threats, sports security is a serious consideration. For screening hardware alone, the sports security market is US$300 million, said Andrew Goldsmith, VP of Global Marketing, Rapiscan Systems. With other ancillary services, this figure will jump to $600 million. “This means there is a very big market opportunity for manufacturers and integrators, and it's growing by nearly 8 percent each year,” Goldsmith said.

The global market for stadium security is growing, with drivers differing by region. In the mature North American market, owners want their stadiums to be even more competitive and secure. “Several stadiums in North America are undergoing renovations or even being completely rebuilt in order to attract more customers, to operate more efficiently and to become more sustainable,” said Rubens Costa, Global Technology Manager, Johnson Controls.

The risk of being an attack target
While regular sports games are usually more focused on hooliganism, large sports events, like the Olympics or the World Cup, face greater security risks due to their scale. Terrorism is a serious consideration. The likelihood of a terrorist attack at the upcoming London Olympics is rated as “severe,” the second highest threat level. “The primary difference between ‘regular' sporting events and large-scale events is, obviously, scale, and the fact that large-scale events like the World Cup and Olympics are viewed as international ‘prestige' events, where the eyes of the global community are on a single country,” Goldsmith said. “Because of this, large-scale events are targets for a broader swath of threats than ‘regular' sporting events. For example, an average NFL game would not typically be a target for a dirty bomb, but a global event like the Olympics would be.”

However, smaller events can still have huge effects. An Egyptian riot in January was sparked by fans of the losing football team, who stormed the field. Given the precarious political situation in Egypt a year after its former government was overthrown, it is unclear whether these riots had political roots or were due to emotional agitation over losing.

Multiple areas, entrances, locations are challenges for security deployment
Larger events include more locations that are farther apart, creating logistical challenges. The busiest day of the London Olympics is expected to attract at least 800,000 spectators at 36 sites. There are likely to be last-minute changes to security measures as people adjust to circumstances on game day, said Geoffrey Smith, VP of Business Development and Strategic Accounts, Proxim Wireless. Shuffling of security is less likely in routine security operations of professional sports leagues, like the NBA.

“Logistically, a large-scale event is more challenging, as it typically involves multiple days of screening millions of people, bags and cargo,” Goldsmith said. “These types of security checkpoints also have to respond to changes, like new personnel or equipment, whereas ‘one-off' event checkpoints do not, due to the command-and-control aspect required by large events.”

Stadium security efforts need to take into account the multiple access points of stadiums and the diverse areas inside a stadium. Not only does security need to monitor the game stands, but also parking lots, public and private hallways and service operations areas, like cafeterias, said Keith Marett, VP of Marketing and Communications, Avigilon. Often stadiums are used for sports, but also concerts, trade shows and conferences that add to the challenges of securing a stadium.

These large events are not just introducing security upgrades to stadiums, but to the cities that will swell with an influx of visitors. “The infrastructure investment is significant,” Costa said. “Transportation systems, hotels, convention centers, airports and communication systems are all being upgraded.”

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