Larger than Life

Next month, ASIS hits the Big D

As the saying goes, everything’s bigger in Texas.

That’s why Dallas is the perfect home for ASIS 2010, one of the industry’s largest and most important tradeshows.

The 56th annual seminar will be held Oct. 12-15 at the Dallas Convention Center. Dallas is a lively, forward- thinking city in the middle of the fourth-largest metropolitan area in the United States -- and home to Security Products magazine.

An Unprecedented Challenge
Clearly, access control, perimeter security, transportation safety and similar measures are important in the 6-million-resident Dallas-Forth Worth Metroplex. And with major events -- such as the 2010 Super Bowl XLV -- continually hosted in and around Dallas, the challenges are even greater.

Cowboys Stadium, the team’s home as of May 2009, is the new apple of the Metroplex’s eye. At 3 million square feet, the largest domed stadium in the world also features the world’s largest high-definition video screen, which hangs from 20 yard line to 20 yard line. With a total seating capacity of 110,000 fans -- greater than any other NFL venue -- security at Cowboys Stadium also has to be world-class.

Jack Hill, general manager of the stadium, said security and safety were a very important part of the facility’s design and will continue to be a key element of its daily operations.

“The NFL -- as with all their stadia -- monitored the progress, wanted to know what was going on and were here quite a bit,” he said. Meetings and collaboration with the local Arlington Police Department, FBI and Secret Service help further ensure that every security angle is considered.

Even on non-game days, Cowboys Stadium is a popular destination. Ron Underwood, back-of-house director at the stadium, said the facility sees about 1,000 visitors a day, many of whom opt to take the new self-guided tour. Other events, especially concerts, are a major draw at the stadium as well.

Super-sized Security
When Super Bowl XLV hits North Texas in February, an estimated 175,000 visitors will come with it. With such a massive event on the horizon, Hill said he and his team have been preparing for more than two years, with NFL officials involved every step of the way.

In many ways, the design of the building itself has been one of the greatest security challenges, Hill said.

“The way sports are going these days, the closer you can get the fan to the athlete, the more you can make that fan feel like he’s a part of the game or event,” he said. “And one feature that has really given us a challenge is the five levels of suites.”

Some of those suites are at field level -- and suiteholders actually drive into the building for access.

“On game day, we’ve got 31 suites down here, with a group of several hundred suiteholders who have the ability to park down here,” Hill said. “That’s an element of control that’s a challenge. And we’re obviously very concerned about player safety by virtue of the fact that the fans have the ability to literally stand within a few feet of the players coming through the tunnel [onto the field].”

A variety of security measures ensure that players, fans, visitors and staff members are as safe as possible.

At entrance points, reinforced hydraulic barricades control traffic. The design of the tunnels -- and the building’s perimeter security measures -- prevents vehicles from getting “a running start,” Hill said.

Using a blend of security personnel and technology helps cover all the bases. Proximity readers provide access control, and a network of 263 cameras -- primarily IP -- watches over every inch of the facility.

Game Face
Obviously, security is most important during events and games.

“This facility is more desirable [as a target] when it’s full of people,” he said. “Someone wants to make a big impact, the thought is that they’re going to try to do it during an event.”

That’s why Hill and his team step up security exponentially on game day. Every person entering the facility -- including team owner Jerry Jones, former President George W. Bush and the players themselves -- undergoes a car sweep and inspection. The number of security officers on duty is increased; the day-of-event command center, on the stadium’s upper level, is brought to life; the FBI and Arlington Police are present; and fans are encouraged to report any suspicious activity during the game. Believe it or not, security will be even more restrictive on Super Bowl Sunday.

“I don’t know if you can ever do enough,” Hill said. “Time will tell. But we think we’ve put in some good measures.”

To see the wonder of Cowboys Stadium for yourself, sign up for the ASIS Dallas Cowboys Stadium tour, which will be held Oct. 11.

This article originally appeared in the September 2010 issue of Security Today.

About the Author

Megan Weadock is a communications specialist at Monitronics.

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