Professional sports is a high-octane, fast-paced world with needs that can change in an instant. Major sports stadiums contribute to the ever-changing nature of the business, and not just by providing the facilities to hold the games themselves. These state-of-the-art venues perform an extensive slate of functions in order to create a complete experience that makes lasting memories and creates loyal fans excited to return and cheer on their team again.
The differing needs of sports franchises before, during and after gamedays give many stadiums a dual nature. In the offseason and apart from gametime, stadiums help their teams to be competitive by providing and maintaining training facilities, medical services, and practice areas, host team offices and administrative facilities, and sustain the infrastructure for the business arm of the franchise. On gameday, stadiums not only open their doors to anywhere from hundreds to hundreds of thousands of fans, but also sell concessions and souvenirs, provide VIP experiences, produce and perform on-field events such as halftime shows or fan engagement games, and manage parking and transportation for thousands of vehicles, fans and players.
All of these functions must be delivered without a hitch, while also ensuring the safety and security of all those within the stadium, from the players on the field to the staff working in concessions and the potentially rowdy fans in the stands. In addition, because of their size and features, many stadiums are often host to other crowd-drawing events, such as concerts or conventions, with entirely different setups and requiring different specific security needs. Outdoor stadiums also need to contend with weather elements that may change security standards (requiring the opening of places normally closed, for example, to maintain proper crowd flow) and create new risks.
The multi-functional nature of the sports stadium makes it a complex venue that is difficult to secure, with security needs that may change by the hour. Many events occur at night, requiring massive lighting infrastructure that can easily create risk, particularly during a concert that includes complex lightshows or pyrotechnics, and often needs to be loaded in and out on the day of the event. The field may be one of the most secure locations in the stadium during a sporting event, or a free-flowing area for the public during a convention or community event. VIPs with special permissions may require complete access to suites, locker rooms, or the field, but still be restricted from maintenance and concessions areas. Maintenance workers may need complete access to the stadium’s inner workings, but should not have authority to access the VIP suites while they are on the job.
Properly securing every area of a stadium for every person who requires access, with multiple levels of security, is a massive undertaking that can easily leave gaps and create risks. As the world of professional sports grows, and the complexity of sports stadiums expands to draw in ever more fans and create more and more exciting experiences, the need for security is only increasing. Key control and key management can help to keep a rein on the complicated world of stadium security by ensuring that only those with authority have the credentials to access the keys to enter designated areas.