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updated: 4/15/2013 10:05 PM

What does future hold for sports and security?

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  • This photo taken Monday, April 15, 2013, in Chicago shows the exterior of Wrigley Field, home of the Chicago Cubs baseball club. During a news conference today, Chicago Cubs chairman Tom Rickets said the Cubs and the city have agreed on details of a $500 million facelift for Wrigley Field, including an electronic video screen that is nearly three times as large as the one currently atop the center-field bleachers of the 99-year-old ballpark.

      This photo taken Monday, April 15, 2013, in Chicago shows the exterior of Wrigley Field, home of the Chicago Cubs baseball club. During a news conference today, Chicago Cubs chairman Tom Rickets said the Cubs and the city have agreed on details of a $500 million facelift for Wrigley Field, including an electronic video screen that is nearly three times as large as the one currently atop the center-field bleachers of the 99-year-old ballpark.
    Associated Press

 
 

Right in the middle of pondering the Wrigley Field renovation developments Monday afternoon …

Boom!

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Reports arrived on TV that explosions resounded near the finish line of the Boston Marathon.

Boom! Boom!

The visions were graphic: Smoke swirled, people scurried, a runner went down as if shot.

Boom! Boom! Boom?

Officials in Boston were trying to determine whether this was a terrorist attack, a broken gas line or something else.

Forgive me for connecting the dots of the two big stories: The explosions occurred not far from Fenway Park, which Cubs ownership is using as a model for their Wrigley Field rehab.

I visited Fenway when the White Sox played the Red Sox in the 2005 American League Division Series. Security at the media gate was what I'd call moderate about four years after terrorists blew up the World Trade Center in New York.

Jump forward to Monday: Just before the explosive news out of Boston, Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts indicated that the Wrigley Field and Wrigleyville makeovers will take somewhere around five years to complete.

Much of the discussion at the news conference centered on security, as in how much will be required and provided to protect Wrigleyville property from drunken Cubs fans.

But what will security inside Wrigley Field be like by then? Regardless of the cause of the Boston explosions, will enough terrorist events take place between now and 2018 that security will be expanded beyond the current imagination?

The first ramp up that I experienced at a sports event came at the Super Bowl in 1991 in Tampa, as Desert Storm was ongoing. The media headquarters were tightly policed. Blockades ringed the perimeter of the stadium. Metal detectors greeted fans at stadium entrances.

Since then the norm has been high security at major sporting events. At lesser sporting events the response has been inconsistent. Security ebbs and flows depending on the location, current events and the prevailing mood.

Safety began being taken for granted again until 9/11. Then it increased with bomb-sniffing dogs and pat-downs. Then it would become lax with brief inspections of carrying bags.

At media gates locally and around the country, I have been frustrated sometimes that there's so much security and sometimes that there's so little. It would be nice to live freely, including at sporting events, without security reminding us of the dangers.

But Boston's police commissioner is on TV now cautioning people not to congregate in large groups. That's what sports fans do, however. They congregate in large groups, which even includes some sparsely attended White Sox games.

So what will sporting events be like in five years, when the Ricketts expect Wrigley Field's renovation to be complete? Will the ebbs prevail and security remain what it generally has been? Or will it flow to the point fans have to wear flak jackets and helmets to midseason games?

Tom Ricketts proclaimed Monday that the Cubs will win a championship if his renovation proposals are approved.

What will attending a World Series be like in 10 years, in five years, in any future year? Will armed guards be on upper-deck roofs to watch for potential terrorist attacks?

In a way I hope so just to feel safe. In another way I hope it never comes to that.

After the Boston booms, to be honest, I don't know what to hope for concerning security at sporting events in America.

mimrem@dailyherald.com

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