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Raising the bar on security at the Utah Summer Games

Raising the bar on security at the Utah Summer Games

The Challenge 

“Raising the Bar” is a phrase commonly associated with pole vaulting or high jumping. At the Utah Summer Games, officials also are raising the bar on efficiency and security with a speedier, more stringent ID card program for athletes. The Utah Summer Games is a three-week, Olympic-style sports festival, with more than 9,000 Utah athletes competing in 52 sports, from soccer to skateboarding. The Utah Summer Games is a member of the National Congress of State Games (NCSG) and a qualifying event for the State Games of America. Through membership in the NCSG, it is also a charter member of the United States Olympic Committee. In 2003, an athlete in Utah broke the world record in track and field for 100 meters and went on to win a silver medal in the Olympics. Another won a gold medal in fencing. The games attract 50,000 spectators every year, in addition to 1,000 volunteers, making athlete security of prime importance to organizers. While most athletes already have ID cards for identification, some sports are making this mandatory for participation. “All soccer players are now required to have ID cards, and other sports are getting close to requiring the same of their athletes,” said Steve Ahlgreen, Marketing/ Operations Coordinator. “Athletes who forget their ID cards at home or may not have received one need to have a card printed on-site.” Existing card printing equipment used by the Utah Summer Games was becoming much too slow to handle the growing volume. In 1999, the games attracted 80 teams with 16 to 20 members per team. According to Ahlgreen, nearly 25 percent needed ID cards printed on-site. In 2005, the number of teams had grown to 200. “We had lines a mile long,” he said. “It wasn’t good.”

Solution Found 

In 2006, administrators searched the Internet and found the Fargo Persona C30 color ID card printer. “We were looking for something we could afford,” Ahlgreen said, “as well as a printer that would print a clear badge. But mostly, we were looking for speed. We didn’t want long lines again.” When he learned the Persona C30 could print an ID card in 25 to 30 seconds from the time the photo was taken to the time a card was printed, compared to three minutes per ID card for his former equipment, he said, “That’s the one I like.” Although the Utah Summer Games is a stand-alone, non-profit organization, it resides on the grounds of Southern Utah University, requiring it to abide by state guidelines and rules. As a result, Ahlgreen was required to obtain bids before purchasing equipment and was delighted at the low price of the C30. He purchased three Fargo printers from ID Wholesaler and set them up in three different stations at the 2006 games. “We didn’t have a line past two people,” he said proudly, even though his staff printed approximately 900 cards that year. “The coaches were extremely happy,” he said. “Because the athletes didn’t have to wait in line for an ID card, they got to the games on time.” The operators of the printers are volunteers, making it important that the printers be easy to operate. “The simplicity of the C30s worked out well,” said Ahlgreen. The Persona C30 card printer is able to print cards on both sides in one pass, speeding the process and reducing card handling. This makes production easier for the operator because there is virtually no learning curve or maintenance involved. A ribbon cartridge with the C30 contains printer ribbon and a card-cleaning roller all in one disposable item. Even the Persona Build-a-Badge™ software is user friendly. “We take the time to evaluate our customers’ needs and point them to the most appropriate product within their budgets,” said Jennifer Clancy, ID Wholesaler Marketing Manager. “We make it very easy for customers to do business with us.” 


ID cards printed at the Utah Summer Games contain a photo of the athlete and his or her name, birth date, age and sport. There’s also the Utah Summer Games logo and pertinent information for judges and referees. “This year, the system needed to be ‘plug and play,’” said Ahlgreen. “We didn’t have time to customize the cards for each sport.” If other sports join soccer in making ID cards mandatory next year, however, Ahlgreen is prepared. Graphics for sports-specific badges have already been stored in the computer. Raising the bar on productivity and efficiency was easier than Ahlgreen expected. Organizers of the Utah Summer Games feel confident that they are taking the necessary steps to ensure the security of participating athletes. Ahlgreen’s advice to others thinking about adding an ID card printer to their operations is this, “Just do it.”

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