Revamping Wrigley Field
The Chicago Cubs improve security at historic ballpark
- By Rick Taylor
- May 30, 2023
When talking about baseball in the United States, it’s hard not to think of the Chicago Cubs and Wrigley Field. With a history spanning more than 100 years, the Chicago Cubs are one of the most recognized teams in professional sports.
Every season, millions of passionate and loyal fans flock to home games at Wrigley Field in Chicago’s Lakeview neighborhood. But Wrigley Field isn’t like any other ballpark. Built in 1914, it’s the second oldest ballpark in the majors. Living up to its nickname ‘The Friendly Confines,’ Wrigley Field warmly welcomes all to experience a genuine all-American baseball game.
Getting Ready to Modernize Ballpark Security
Providing fans and players with updated amenities within the more than 100-year-old ballpark, the Chicago Cubs launched a restoration and expansion project in 2014, known as the 1060 Project. The 1060 Project was designed to ensure the viability of the ballpark for future generations of Cubs fans, while preserving the beauty, charm and historic features fans have come to know and love.
The 1060 Project also expanded the footprint of Wrigley Field and the surrounding campus. For the Chicago Cubs security team that meant keeping people safe well beyond Wrigley Field itself. They also needed to oversee security at the neighboring venues, parking lots, and the Chicago Cubs front office.
Doug Lindsay, vice president of Security for the Chicago Cubs, summed up the top challenges: “We have a facility that’s more than 100 years old and nestled in the middle of a residential neighborhood.
“We need to ensure people can get here and have a great experience and the neighborhood remains safe. It was also difficult to work around the old building infrastructure to upgrade our security systems. The 1060 Project gave us an opportunity to modernize our technology stack,” Lindsay said.
Selecting Genetec Security Center, Omnicast and Streamvault
After the completion of the 1060 Project, the Chicago Cubs sought to enhance its security technology. Following a review, the team found multiple security systems that had been installed over the years affected the safety and security team’s investigation processes. The organization also sought a solution that would enable it to remain compliant with video retention requirements well into the future. They needed a scalable platform that would also help them become more proactive in their approach to security.
Unified system management, visual map navigation, and automated alerts were all features they knew could enhance their teams’ efficiencies. They also needed server infrastructure that would meet the requirements of their newly built Joint Operations Center (JOC).
After a lengthy request for proposal (RFP) process, the Chicago Cubs decided on Genetec™ Security Center with the Omnicast™ video management system (VMS) and the Streamvault™ security infrastructure solution.
Steve Inman, vice president of Technology for the Chicago Cubs, said a few key factors helped seal their decision: “Genetec is a leader in the physical security industry and delivers a platform that’s scalable, feature-rich, and progressive.
"To top it off, Security Center is an open platform with hundreds of compatible integrations and had API capabilities that no other solution could match. When we chose Genetec Security Center, we were thinking about our objectives 10+ years down the line. That flexibility opens us up to so many other possibilities in the future,” Inman said.
Enhancing Operator Efficiency with One Security View
Today, the Chicago Cubs security team manages high-definition and multi-lens cameras across the entire Wrigley Field campus from their Joint Security Operations Center (JSOC). They also integrated an existing access control system within Security Center and deployed multiple Genetec Streamvault appliances with built-in failover and redundancy.
“The VMS deployment of Security Center VMS has gone smoothly, and nothing has fallen outside of our timeline. Considering how quickly and how much we’ve expanded our security footprint, that’s been impressive,” Inman said.
With Security Center and Omnicast up on their monitors, the team now has an all-encompassing picture of the ballpark’s security. Though they are still in the early days of its deployment, they feel more in control of their environment than ever before.
“In the past, our security team would have a bunch of different platforms up concurrently. They’d have to know how to find information and piece it together quickly,” Lindsay said. “On a busy gameday, when we’re managing many different situations, that is hard work. With Security Center, all that information is coming into one platform, so they see what is happening and focus exclusively on the tasks at hand. We are seeing a higher level of efficiency across our team.”
More recently, the Chicago Cubs implemented Plan Manager, the map-based interface. Now, instead of having to remember device names and locations, they can easily find cameras and doors, and even monitor alarms directly from a map of the ballpark. They plan to continue expanding the system by setting up event-to-actions, adding standard operating procedures, and extending system access to field staff using the Genetec Mobile app.
“We’re excited to use the many features of the platform, including the visual and intuitive enhancements it provides for our operators. The integration between video surveillance and access control has been a significant upgrade. Genetec has really expanded our ability to have real-time visibility of our facility,” Lindsay said.
Simplifying Video Expansion with Appliances
Deploying this infrastructure solution was a critical piece of the puzzle for the Cubs organization. Following implementation, the team ramped up processing power and storage capacity beyond compliance mandates in order to anticipate future growth plans. They now have space left for expansions beyond required minimum retention requirements.
“Streamvault came pre-loaded with Omnicast and pre-configured for our installation requirements. So, the amount of time that it took us to get our video system up and running was incredibly quick. We haven't seen that level of deployment efficiency with any of the other tools that we've put in place,”
Inman said. “From a scalability perspective, we’ve been able to increase our processing and storage capacity in a big way without needing to redesign other components on the backend of our infrastructure. It’s been plug-and-play with Streamvault.”
Another big benefit is the ability to connect all systems back to the JSOC for centralized management. This allows the team to expand their surveillance efforts to other smaller, remote locations and get real-time visibility on those sites when required. Looking ahead, the team sees an opportunity to leverage the cloud connectivity of Streamvault appliances to further expand their operations, while reducing their hardware footprint across their sites.
Appliances also come pre-hardened with all cybersecurity features enabled by default. This has given the Chicago Cubs an expedited path to modernizing their security infrastructure while maintaining cyber resilience.
“We run everything through the MLB cybersecurity program. As we went through this process, determined what we needed, and found the best solution to meet our requirements, we were heavily focused on ensuring cybersecurity best practices,” Inman said. “Then we had another layer of approval from MLB whose team looked closely at all cybersecurity aspects of Genetec technology. To get the green light from them validated that we chose the right technology partner and product.”
Planning for Future Growth Opportunities
The Chicago Cubs are just beginning to unlock the power of Genetec solutions. And with ambitious plans in mind, they’re keen to keep evolving and expanding their security footprint.
The next phase of deployment will include deploying solutions at Sloan Park, the Cubs Spring Training facility in Mesa, AZ, and eventually at the Chicago Cubs Academy in the Dominican Republic. Since these sites are more remote and have limited staff throughout the year, they plan to connect these systems back to the Wrigley Field JSOC to offer additional support and remote assistance as needed.
The Chicago Cubs are also looking for ways to collaborate more closely with Chicago’s Office of Emergency Management and Communications (OEMC). According to Lindsay, deploying Genetec Security Center makes it possible:
“We’ve always had a good relationship with the Chicago OEMC. Since bringing Genetec on board, we’ve started talking about using the Federation™ feature to give them access to some of our exterior cameras. This would expand their visibility across the city. We’re also looking at installing AutoVu™ automatic license plate recognition (ALPR) cameras around our ballpark and federating those with the Chicago OEMC. They can respond to any alerts to wanted vehicles or known suspects. This partnership makes Wrigley Field and our community safer,” Lindsay said.
Another big enhancement on the horizon is enabling built-in video analytics within Security Center. The team is already looking at deploying KiwiVision™ Intrusion Detector to help off-season or nighttime staff better detect threats. They are also interested in using KiwiVision People Counter and Crowd Estimation analytics to identify bottlenecks on gamedays and streamline the flow of people moving through the ballpark.
“We have numerous other operational technologies outside of safety and security. Having Genetec Security Center and the Omnicast VMS has opened our minds to many other future use cases and different ways to enhance our daily operations and the guest experience. There are so many integrations, capabilities, and features available to us. We’re excited to maximize the use of the Genetec platform across our business and find new ways to keep enhancing that one-of-a-kind ballpark experience that all Chicago Cubs fans and Wrigley Field visitors know and love,” Inman said.
This article originally appeared in the May / June 2023 issue of Security Today.