Getting tickets to go see your local professional sports team is a family tradition for many around the world. Whether you go to see the world’s version of football, the NFL, professional baseball, hockey, or even professional lacrosse, when the sun is shining and your team is winning, it is difficult to find a better feeling than that moment… except when your team pulls out a stunning victory, right?
Security is tight at all sporting venues these days for obvious reasons. Those that would use terrorism to make a political statement have repeatedly said that the best targets are soft venues. Where else do tens of thousands of people gather together on a regular basis in any given community more than the local stadium when your favorite sport is in season?
Staying safe is unfortunately part of the package when you’ve got tickets to go see your team. These tips will help you have a good time, make it through security without a hassle, and stay safe during the entire process. It’s not about being paranoid. It’s about coming home to share your memories from a day at the stadium!
Give Yourself Plenty of Time
Whether you use public transportation to get to the game, you’re driving there yourself and plan on paying the $25 parking fee, or you’re just going to park off-site and walk a mile to the game, allow for plenty of extra time. The airport recommends that you arrive 90 minutes ahead of time and that’s a good rule of thumb to follow for going to the stadium as well.
Why? You never know what extra security might be in place for the game. There could be a security alert in place because someone arrived ahead of you and did something stupid already. Everyone might be showing up at the same time and the delay in getting through the gate means you’re about to miss part of the game. Worst case scenario for arriving early? You can eat more stadium food!
Take Only What Is Necessary With You
Before you even hand over your ticket to enter the stadium, there’s undoubtedly going to be a big, burly looking security dude where almost neon colors that will beckon you over to his inspection line. Everything is up for grabs during an inspection these days, including a pat down in some venues, so be prepared to answer questions for anything that might even be remotely suspicious. That includes pens!
If you don’t need something at the game, don’t take it with you. Bring your camera for pictures if you want, but put it and your other essentials into a clear bag instead of a purse. Wear clothing with sturdy pockets so you can keep any other essentials on your body at all times.
Don’t Keep Your Wallet In Your Back Pocket
This one is mostly for you, guys. If someone is going to try to take your wallet, most guys keep it in the right back pocket of their pants and thieves know this. Rather than opt for the ever-so-fashionable fanny pack, put your wallet into a pocket that is much more difficult to pick without you noticing it. A front shirt pocket under a zipped coat is your best option, but even in a front trouser pocket is better than an overly exposed back pocket. Find a different place that is comfortable for you, button down the pocket if you can, and your wallet will be more secure.
Suspicious Activity Should Always Be Considered Suspicious
Fandom brings a lot of craziness to the stadium, which makes it part of the fan. The guy with his body painted in silver and gold, wearing beads around his neck, jumping up and down with his chili cheese fries is not the suspicious guy in the crowd. Instead it’s the person who is tucked into a corner, trying to look nonchalant, with a backpack, duffel, or briefcase on the ground that they’re clearing watching, even though it isn’t next to them.
If you see anything suspicious, but most importantly a package that is left unattended, alert someone from security immediately about what you’ve seen. When it comes to your family, safe is always better than sorry. Never assume that someone else has seen the same thing and will report it so you don’t have to report it.
Always Bring a Little Cash With You
Even though credit and debit cards are accepted at a majority of stadium sites, not every vendor accepts them as a form of payment, even today. This is especially true with food vendors that roam that stadium, selling overpriced cotton candy and really, really overpriced beer. If you expect to want these things, bring cash with you, but just enough to get what you want. Flash too much cash and you’ll likely become a target with the tens of thousands of eyes that can potentially see what you’re doing. Don’t have enough… well, maybe not having enough cash is a good thing too because an $11 beer is a bit silly.
Know Where Guest Services Is Located
Kids can sometimes run off despite your loud verbal threats of not providing garlic fries or the removal of video game privileges for a month. Maybe you’ve got a stroller because your twins are headed to their first game. Knowing where guest services is located will help you find what you need, store what you need, and as a bonus you can get lots of free stuff! Autographed posters, baseball cards, and other promotional materials are located within that tiny box. A friendly smile can score you some amazing memorabilia!
There’s also a second reason why you should know where guest services has a station: it’s often an assembly point for when a security situation arises.
Going to a game is still a fun time for the whole family, but you’ve got to plan ahead a little bit more today than in the past. Use these tips to get to the game safely, enjoy it with those you love, and then come home without incident so you can share those memories with everyone!