The focus on safety and security for commercial facilities and infrastructure like sports stadiums and arenas is an important piece of homeland security. Anytime you have a large gathering of people – on the scale of the Super Bowl, a World Series game, NASCAR race, Presidential Inaugural or other major event – there is cause for concern that terrorists or others with nefarious intent may attempt to cause disruption or gain notoriety before a wide audience.
Today, representatives from professional sports leagues, industry associations, academia, and private sports event security companies joined with top Homeland Security and law enforcement agency officials to share information, establish protocols, and conduct an intensive table-top exercise (TTX) sponsored by the DHS National Protection and Programs Directorate’s Office of Infrastructure Protection. The two-day event began yesterday with a conference that featured a series of briefings and discussions in Northern Virginia among public and private sector partners.
The Sports Leagues Conference and TTX is designed to give key security players an opportunity to share best practices and explore the inherent challenges to keeping large public facilities safe. Nearly 200 individuals participated, including sports league security representatives from the National Football League (NFL); Major League Baseball (MLB); National Basketball Association (NBA); National Hockey League (NHL); National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing (NASCAR); Indy Racing League; Major League Soccer; U.S. Tennis Association; and the National Collegiate Athletic Association.
Did you know that…
· MLB had 73 million fans at their events in 2009
· NBA had 21 million fans at their events during the 2008-09 season
· NHL had 21 million fans at their events during the 2008-09 season
· NFL had 17 million fans at their events in 2009
· NASCAR can have up to 400,000 fans at a single event
And there are…
· 70 stadiums utilized by the NFL, MLS, and MLB
· 42 arenas associated with the NBA and the NHL
· 31 racetracks (NASCAR and Indycar)
Today’s TTX challenged participants from the private sector and all levels of government– federal, state, local tribal and territorial– to look at their respective roles and responsibilities and develop ways to work together more effectively. The collaborative process and shared commitment is vital to protect the people attending high-profile sporting and related events that can also be high-target opportunities for terrorists or other criminals.
If you’d like more information about important critical infrastructure initiatives currently underway at DHS, please visit www.dhs.gov/criticalinfrastructure.
Rand Beers is the Under Secretary of the National Protection and Programs Directorate