Friday, March 28, 2003

9-11 made ballpark enhance security

By John Byczkowski
The Cincinnati Enquirer

For Kerry Rowland, every day is Sept. 12, 2001.

As the Cincinnati Reds' public safety and security manager, he is responsible for the safety of tens of thousands of people who will fill the new Great American Ball Park. And though the terrorist attacks occurred 18 months ago, he plans to run ballpark security as if they happened yesterday.

"Terrorism is one of our major concerns, obviously," he said. "The farther you are from 9-11, the more (people) forget about it. We just don't have the luxury of becoming lax, because then we're neglecting our fans."

The terrorist attacks have figured into the ballpark's construction in several, often subtle ways. The Reds were able to make adjustments because Great American was barely out of the ground in September 2001.

"The facility was originally designed for security. We tweaked the design ... to address certain issues related to 9-11," said Arnie Rosenberg, ballpark project director for the project management team Parsons Brinckerhoff.

John Allen, the Reds' chief operating officer, said that from the start, the Reds wanted security in Great American to be the best in baseball.

"We were thinking even before 9-11," he said. "When 9-11 happened and Major League Baseball came down with stricter standards, we just stepped right in line with it."

Rowland said he believes sports facilities are prime targets.

"We're concerned because we have exactly what terrorists are looking for. We have a large event with a lot of publicity," he said.

Rosenberg wouldn't disclose what the Reds spent on security, other than to point out that the $280 million ballpark came in on budget.

Rowland said the Reds, "have done everything they can possibly do to this ballpark, where they really have decided security is of the utmost importance."

What fans can expect

More than 100 security personnel will work each game.

Among the changes made as a result of the terrorist attacks:

• More security cameras, especially in the bowels of the ballpark. The Reds will not disclose the number of cameras. "There are no areas within this facility that are not covered by a security camera," Rosenberg said. From a command post in center field, cameras can be aimed simply by typing a section and seat number into a computer.

• Critical components such as generators and telephone switches were moved deeper inside the structure, "so if someone tried to bomb certain areas, it's going to be more difficult for them to get to the basic mechanics," Rowland said.

• Increased redundancy, such as two main gas lines or two telephone lines, so that one works if the other is destroyed.

• Turnstiles. In the original park design, fans would pass through a gate and have their tickets scanned electronically. Rowland said old-fashioned turnstiles were brought back to slow the entering crowd.

• The addition of light poles, planters and other barriers to the mouth of Crosley Terrace, the main entrance to the ballpark at Second and Main Streets, to prevent vehicles from entering the plaza.

• Fire-prevention sprinklers in the ramps between the main concourse and the upper deck received new valves that would allow them to be used when there's no fire. That allows the sprinklers to douse fans if there's a chemical attack. "We can actually decontaminate people coming out of the ballpark," Rowland said.

• Shut-off valves in the air intakes, to prevent smoke or gas from spreading through the park.

The Reds have tightened security for those coming into the ballpark, particularly for deliveries. At Great American, trucks making deliveries enter a fully enclosed delivery bay off Pete Rose Way. The fact that the trucks actually pull inside the building raises a new level of concern, Rowland said.

To protect the ballpark, "We will only have scheduled deliveries," he said. IDs and driver's licenses will be scanned, and if the driver in the truck isn't the one scheduled to be there, the truck won't be allowed in.

Bags will be limited to 16 inches by 16 inches by 8 inches. No hard-sided coolers will be allowed.

The Reds will post spotters along the main walkways leading up to the park, who will warn fans if they're carrying something that won't be allowed in, Rowland said.

While the Reds believe tight security is necessary, are they running the risk of scaring a good time out of their fans? Rowland, a retired 28-year veteran of the Cincinnati Police Department, said he's aware that he's walking a fine line.

"We're not trying to make it a police state," he said. "We're trying to make it as safe as we can without being obnoxious to our fans."

Walking out of Crosley Terrace Thursday, season-ticket holder Bob Donlan of Hyde Park said security can be too intrusive.

"But right now, with all that's going on, I think most people are going to be understanding."


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