Friday the 13th, November 2015. A day traditionally associated with evil and bad luck became permanently engraved in the mind of France, as a day of tragedy and desolation, and the date of the most deadly terrorist attack in French history.  Two gunmen opened fire on a crowd at the Bataclan concert venue in Paris, and three suicide bombers detonated explosives outside the Stade de France. Fortunately, thanks to the security in place at the stadium, the bombers were kept from entering the stadium, and were forced to detonate outside, minimizing the damage done, and saving countless lives.

This incident called into scrutiny the security of stadiums in America, as people across the nation mourned with the French, and dreaded what would happen if a similar event occurred in the United States. This time, security did its job, and prevented a terrorist from entering the stadium with 80,000 souls, but one can’t help but wonder if one of these terrorists might be able to slip through the cracks, and inflict catastrophic damage, and loss of life.

The good news is, that no American stadiums have suffered any such terroristic attack, and NFL stadium security is good enough at preventing deadly weapons from entering the stadium to be dubbed “Effective anti-terrorism technology” by the Department of Homeland Security. The bad news is, that smaller scale violence has become pervasive. For example, in 2011 the San Francisco 49ers reported 3,415 incidents at Candlestick Park, including 23 felony arrests, 201 fights, and 630 ejections from the Stadium (KIRO).

Another major issue, is parking lot security. While there are security officers manning the parking lot before and after the games, there are simply not enough of them to prevent fan violence. Deadly weapons in parking lots are also an issue, as while teams can prevent them from entering the stadium, there is very little they can do to prevent them from being used in the parking lot. This issue was brought to a head in October, after an NFL game between the Dallas Cowboys, and New England Patriots in Texas. After the game, a fight broke out between two fans in the parking lot, which Rick Sells attempted to break up, and received a fatal shot to the neck in the process. Victoria Gunning (Sell’s sister) questioned the security at AT&T stadium after her brother’s death: “It makes me sick and disgusted that it was allowed to continue to the point of my brother’s life, they need to have enough security for all of the people that are there,” she said.

The most interesting thing about stadium violence, is that the police rarely seem to get involved. The NFL doesn’t require that teams use police even for felony level crimes, so many choose not to. In fact, the St. Louis police force only filled out three crime reports over the course of 14 Rams home games, and Cincinnati police only filled out 8 crime reports over the course of 16 games (KIRO).

Overall, while security seems to be doing a good job at preventing terrorist attacks, and deadly encounters inside the stadium, fan fighting in the stadium and surrounding parking lots still remains an issue that needs to be addressed.



Featured image credit Eastbay blog

Halsne, Chris. “Crime inside NFL Stadiums Hidden from Police.” N.p., 31 Jan. 2013. Web. 18 Nov. 2015.