Jan. 11-17, 2002
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Fans ‘appreciate’ new security

By Matt Kelly

Fewer alcohol-related incidents were reported at football games after University officials changed rules and security procedures at Scott Stadium in the wake of September’s terrorist attacks.

Among the changes: patrons were not readmitted once they left the stadium; bags, backpacks, banners and poles were added to the list of prohibited items, which already included food, alcohol and coolers; and the number of security personnel was increased.

“From everything I hear, there had been a dramatic improvement in alcohol-related incidents,” said Craig T. Littlepage, director of athletics. “There have been fewer scuffles, fewer situations related to public drunkenness. There have been fewer reports across the board.”

Jason Bauman, assistant director of facilities for game and events operations, said alcohol has long been a concern at games. Though beer and wine are not served at the stadium, many fans drink at pre-game parties, and many had been returning to nearby tailgate parties for a halftime drink.

University Police Capt. Michael Coleman confirmed that there were fewer reported incidents of intoxication at the football games, which translated to fewer fights and other related violations. People seemed to be lingering longer after the game for tailgate parties, which Coleman attributed to warmer fall weather.

Increased security made law enforcement easier, Coleman said. Bauman put 50 to 60 more people on security — a 10 to 20 percent increase — many outside the gates checking bags. He said there were no back-ups and everybody was in the stadium by kickoff.

“The patrons appreciate the added measure of safety,” Littlepage said.
At the first home game after the attacks, against Duke on Sept. 29, fans were still tense, Bauman said, and the security measures gave them added comfort. In subsequent games, patrons grew more accustomed to it.

“Most of the responses I heard were ‘Thanks’ and ‘It went quicker than I thought,’” Bauman said.

The new football regulations are being reviewed before a decision is made about whether they will be continued next season, officials said. Security measures would be looked at as part of any normal post-season review, Littlepage said, noting that many universities have permanently adopted similar policies.

Some fans favor continuing the no re-entry policy, and Bauman agrees. “From an operational standpoint, it has to do with how many times you handle people,” he said. “We would have people come in, get their ticket punched, go inside and then almost immediately turn around, get their hand stamped and go back out.”

Whether more people in the stadium at halftime translated into better concession business is hard to judge. Concession sales depend on many factors, Bauman noted, and fluctuate from game to game. For example, concessions did 35 percent more business at the Virginia Tech game than at the Georgia Tech game a week earlier, though the crowd was less than 20 percent larger.

“There are so many variables in determining this,” Bauman said. “We probably had greater sales this season because of our schedule, with Florida State and Penn State.”

Jon Kates, director of the University Bookstore, said clothing sales at the bookstore’s close-to-the-stadium outlet, T.J’s Locker, suffered because people could not bring bags into the game. Sales were steady within the stadium and at the main Bookstore, where people could make a purchase and have it held for them until after the game. Kates said T.J.’s Locker would hold purchases if customers asked, but that service was not promoted because of the size of the store.

The change in policy had seemingly little impact on stadium trash, Bauman said.
“From what I hear, the trash pick up was not as bad [outside the stadium],” said Chris Willis, director of Facilities Management’s operations department.

But Willis also noted that trash collection is affected by rain, temperature and whether or not U.Va. wins. “There’s more trash if it’s a close game,” he said.
Dennis Clark, director of U.Va. Recycling, said the volume of recycleables increased in Scott Stadium after the new rules went into effect. He said there are about 10 to 12 tons of trash per game, of which about 25 percent is recycled.

Some procedures are being continued at other athletic venues. Bags are being checked before basketball games at University Hall, though patrons are being allowed to leave and re-enter, mostly to smoke at halftime. U-Hall is an 8,000-seat, no-smoking facility, which makes it different from a 50,000-seat, open-air stadium, Bauman explained. Basketball halftime is shorter, he noted, and the game is not an all-day event with tailgate parties in the parking lot.

University Police Chief Paul Norris said he would soon meet with police chiefs from other schools in the state, and athletic security polices will be among the topics.


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