December 10, 2013 Sections
Winnipeg Free Press - ONLINE EDITION
STUNG by fan criticism last season their gameday security was too heavy-handed, the Winnipeg Blue Bombers announced Wednesday morning security at new Investors Group Field will be largely "hands-off."
The Bombers announced security wands similar to the devices used at airports will be the "primary screening device" when Investors Group Field unofficially opens later this month and manual body searches will only be conducted in exceptional circumstances.
"The football club takes the safety of our fans extremely seriously and has outlined policies to ensure everyone can enjoy an event or concert at our new facility," Blue Bomber president and CEO Garth Buchko said in a statement Wednesday.
"We believe we have taken a balanced approach to security that respects the privacy of fans while still allowing us the flexibility to conduct manual searches should they be required to guard against the kind of tragedy that can happen anywhere, any time, as it did recently in Boston."
The club said fans will be screened by wands and their bags searched upon entry to the stadium. Only if something suspicious is found will they then be subjected to "manual searchers."
The move to bring in security wands — as well as providing free water in the stadium and allowing fans to bring in small snacks on game day — are all concessions by the Bombers to the howls of protests from fans the club was being too heavy-handed last season as they tightened gameday security in preparation for this year’s move to a new stadium.
Some of the increased security measures are aimed at cracking down on fans bringing outside food and beverages into a new stadium where the Bombers are hoping concession sales will help pay for the $200-million construction cost.
But Kelly Keith, the Bombers’ security manager, said more than anything, the security measures are aimed simply at ensuring everyone is safe. "It’s not like all this wanding and searching is just to benefit us — it’s to benefit everyone," said Keith.