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Sport Spectators Open to Security Ticket Fees and Facial Recognition

Spectators at live sport events would welcome greater visible security measures, including facial recognition or verification, and would be willing to pay a nominal security surcharge in their ticket fees to support security budgets, according to findings from a recent National Center for Spectator Sports Safety and Security (NCS4) survey.

The survey analyzed “sport spectators’ perceptions of safety and security at live events, awareness, support of policies and procedures, and willingness to embrace new measures and technological solutions to their safety and game-day experience,” according to an NCS4 press release

The survey—which is conducted every two years by an institute at the University of Southern Mississippi—looked at the following categories: participant demographics and attendance habits; perceptions of safety and security practices, technologies, and industry threats; and perceptions of fan behavior and the spectator experience.

Significant findings related to perceptions of safety and security practices, technologies, and industry threats:

  • 3 percent of respondents said they agreed or strongly agreed that when attending a sporting event they consider safety and security measures.

  • 73 percent either agreed or strongly agreed that they prefer visible security measures. Separately, participants siad they highly supported the presence of venue security staff, law enforcement, walk-through screening detection technologies, security wands, visible security cameras, and designated entry gates.

  • Of the 400 survey participants, approximately two-thirds said they trust a sport venue’s efforts to protect them from active shooters, vehicle ramming incidents, and breaches of personal identifiable information (PII).

  • The top threats and safety concerns that respondents had included theft, the use of weapons, unsafe parking environments, alcohol abuse, inadequate security personnel or screening, and fan violence.

  • Attendees preferred to learn about event safety and security information through the website, an app for the venue or event, signage at entry points, and signage throughout the venue.

Significant findings related to perceptions of fan behavior and the spectator experience:

  • More than half of participants said they preferred security screening methods that require people to individually pass through instead of a method that allows several people to pass through all at once.

  • 3 percent of attendees indicated they would welcome facial authentication or validation as part of the venue entry experience.

  • Approximately 70 percent of respondents said they would be willing to pay a security ticket fee to offset safety and security costs, with the fee ranging from $0.50 to $5.00.
  • 23 percent of participants reported that they were a victim of disruptive fan behavior, and the majority of this percentage had reported incidents. More than half of the 66.8 percent of surveyed attendees, however, said that they had witnessed such behavior and chose not to report it.

  • The most common kinds of incidents at a sporting event included alcohol abuse, fan violence either inside or outside of the venue, severe weather, and tailgating incidents.

The survey also made several recommendations for venue and event security management departments to support a positive fan experience and a positive perception of security measures at venues.

One suggestion was to encourage attendees to arrive to an event early through the use of incentives, such as giveaways for a certain number of first arrivals. The survey also recommended monitoring areas where spectators tailgate prior to the game or event, and adequate training for venue staff on ticketing and security screening.

“Visible security measures increase spectators’ sense of safety, reinforcing the need for the presence of law enforcement and security staff, entry screening technologies, CCTV, and security personnel body cameras,” the survey said. “Furthermore, provide a mechanism for spectators to report incidents inside the venue or event space.”

Other recommendations specific to security measures were also listed, including hosting event-specific risk assessments, addressing disruptive fan behavior with a fan code of conduct and significant penalties for violating the code to deter such behavior, considering implementing facial authentication or validation for spectator entry, and considering a nominal security surcharge included in ticket fees.

For more on stadium and sporting event security, check out our content series on Marathons and Mass Event Security.