With the 'unknown certainty' of terrorist actions and fan behavior, it is impossible to ensure a risk-free environment at America's sporting venues. Incidents will happen and emergencies will arise. It is a matter of how one prepares, responds, and recovers to mitigate the consequences of emergencies at a sporting venue. Sport venue managers need to be aware of risk assessment methodologies to detect threats, identify vulnerabilities, and reduce consequences. Information gathered through this process is extremely valuable for enhancing security measures. This article discusses risk assessment and analysis, addresses the need for risk assessments at sporting venues, and describes the sport-specific risk assessment model developed while conducting research through a Homeland Security grant.
Sport lost its innocence on September 5, 1972, at the Olympic Games in Munich, Germany (CNN.com, 2002). A Palestinian group known as Black September crept into the Olympic Village and took nine members of the Israeli team hostage. The captors demanded a safe exit out of Germany and the release of Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli jails (2002). Unfortunately, a failed rescue attempt led to the death of all nine Israeli hostages, five terrorists, and one German policeman (2002). "For the first time, world sport had become a victim of terrorism, bringing with it a brutal reminder of the world's harsher realities" (2). Terrorism struck again in 1996. A 'domestic terrorist' was responsible for the Centennial Olympic Park bombing at the Atlanta Games. This incident killed one person and injured more than 100 (CNN.com, 1996). Regardless of the motives for these attacks, terrorists chose to act on a world stage that offered global exposure for their cause. The incident in which an Oklahoma student prematurely detonated a bomb strapped to his body outside a football stadium packed with 84,000 in October 2005 (Hagmann, 2005), and the most recent threat of a dirty bomb attack on several NFL stadiums in October 2006 (CNN.com, 2006), emphasize the fact that sport venues are an attractive target for potentially catastrophic consequences. Besides terrorism, sport venue managers must plan for other incidents or unexpected disasters, such as fan/player violence or natural hazards.
One problem that sports venue manager's face is determining the potential threat level, "causing leagues, teams and venues to prepare for a range of possible incidents at their facilities and to maintain close contact with federal, state and local law enforcement representatives regarding possible threats" (Hurst, Zoubek, Pratsinakis, n.d., p. 4). The risk assessment process is a way to determine risk and threat levels and identify vulnerabilities. "A good risk management approach includes three primary elements: a threat assessment, a vulnerability assessment, and a criticality assessment." (Decker, 2001, p. 1). These assessments provide vital information for the protection of critical assets against terrorist attacks and other threats. Sport venue managers are able to identify vulnerabilities and thus harden the facility and improve physical protection systems. This may include implementing access controls, using CCTV security cameras, adding lighting, encouraging background checks, credentialing, checking backpacks, enhancing communication networks, and developing...