On-site Lockers

TIAA Bank Field scores security for personal belongings

Stadium bag policies continue to be a growing priority at sports stadiums and arenas across the U.S., particularly in regard to personal bag size and the particular items that are permitted into facilities during scheduled events. Initially implemented for the 2013 professional football season, the NFL launched a new bag policy intending to provide a safer environment for the public and to expedite fan entry.

Since then, the initial policy has evolved and now limits the size and type of bags that may be brought into stadiums. For example, non-transparent bags are permitted but must not exceed 4.5 inches by 6.5 inches (about the size of an average hand). Clear, see-through bags must not exceed 12 inches by 12 inches by 6 inches. While this may seem strict, security specialists are united in ensuring the safety of the public with policies that have now been adopted by all NFL stadiums, as well as other venues and arenas across the country.

Challenge on the Field

If not adhering to the NFL’s bag policy, an entire day-out experience can potentially be ruined for fans, as individuals and sometimes entire families are restricted from entering the stadium. When this happens, perhaps the only available options are:

  1. Bring the restricted item(s) back to the car, sometimes a great distance away from the stadium.
  2. Discard the item(s), which is usually not logical.
  3. Lucky enough to be at a stadium that provides off-site options for restricted items.

However, in the past, these options have come with long lines and/or high storage fees during both pre- and post-game times, adding to an already long day. In 2013, when the first policy was enforced, TIAA Bank Field, home to the Jacksonville Jaguars, created an area to replicate a coat check that included rolling racks. Game day attendees would have a place to bring their restricted items – briefcases, purses or other items – and, in turn, would receive a numbered ticket to retrieve their item when they departed the venue. This was beneficial to attendees using the service; however, ticketing many items per game was a labor-intensive process for the stadium.

“This old school approach wasn’t working for us. What we really needed was something automated, self-sufficient and easily implemented,” said Ryan Prep, director of facility operations for the Jacksonville Jaguars.

The Perfect Solution

What started as an empty shipping container with lockers evolved into a solution that would solve Prep’s need for a secure way to store attendees’ belongings.

“We created the LOKnCHARGE lockers after noticing the frustration from people who attend events and have no place to put their items,” said Benoit Briere, CEO of LOKnCHARGE, a Montreal-based secure mobile locker solution. “There was a need for security and convenience, so I was on the hunt for a secure yet simple solution to ensure each locker can be locked by the individual using it.”

After researching solutions, Briere found Codelocks, a company that specializes in standalone keyless door locks and access control products. These two companies teamed up to develop a secure, onsite alternative for attendees of not only sporting events, but music concerts and street festivals to enjoy their event unencumbered without having to experience the negative outcome of being turned away because of carrying restricted items.

In regard to the LOKnCHARGE units, it was determined – based on future needs of the end-user – to place the KL1060. Codelocks’ KL line of products stands for KitLock, ideal for cabinets and lockers. It appears the KL1060 is a smart way to generate time-sensitive codes for a wide range of lockers.

Codelocks worked with LOKnCHARGE to develop an online portal where anyone can book and pay for a locker in advance. Through Codelocks’ NetCode, a four-digit code can be obtained by a future user with a specific start date, time and duration, resulting in an easy and self-sufficient solution.

Once the duration expires, the codes no longer work, creating a more convenient way to grant access. These generated codes can be sent by email or standard text messages. In addition, a Wi-Fi connection is not required to operate these locks.

“By adding the units, and the partnership with Codelocks, it has helped avoid the risk of loss or theft of important personal items, while providing convenient online booking for our customers,” Benoit said. “The solution was presented to Prep to solve their storage needs.”

The Jacksonville Jaguars currently deploy two LNC-550 units – aptly called offense and defense – totaling 1,100 lockers which are used on game days as well as all major events at TIAA Bank Field.

“After learning about this solution, we invited Briere and the Codelocks team to Jacksonville to discuss implementation and training,” Prep said.

Game Time

Before the season started, Briere and Codelocks representatives traveled to Jacksonville to train the Jaguars guest services team on how to operate the lockers. They were also on-hand during the first three home games to ensure a seamless-transition.

Attendees who needed to secure their restricted belongings would simply arrive at the container, access the website (www. jaxlockers.com) through a mobile phone, and rent their locker in less than two minutes. For those who didn’t have access to a mobile phone or would simply rather not use their phone, iPads were available through the stadium support staff for easy access. Once that was completed, a fourdigit code was sent via text message and email to the user and they would instantly have access to a specific locker.

“We went from an extensive check-in process with long lines and using 12 or more employees working long hours, to only needing five or six employees to complete the process,” Prep said.

However, one key issue to be resolved was the randomization of what lockers were being administered at a given time.

“All of a sudden, locker 39 and 41 would be assigned simultaneously, which resulted in congestion and lines,” Prep said.

With this feedback, Codelocks worked with the backend of the website and rewrote the code in order to ensure the randomization of locker assignments that the Jaguars guest services team needed. This allowed for free-flowing space for users to easily put their often-bulky items into the lockers.

The Final Score

Once the initial growing pains were rectified, the entire process became streamlined. The solution was used during 12 stadium events throughout the season, with seven regular season home games, plus two preseason games.

“I’m thrilled the solution was able to be successful for the Jacksonville Jaguars 2019-2020 season,” Briere said. “The collaboration between Codelocks and us resulted in a solution that can be used for a variety of events, including our highly attended NFL football games.”

Prep said that the team is looking forward to using the solution in the future. “It ended up being a great partnership and they took care of all of our needs, questions and feedback to develop a solution that worked for us and, most importantly, our fans,” Prep said.

This article originally appeared in the April 2020 issue of Security Today.

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