SALT LAKE CITY — Walk-through metal detectors have joined bag checks for guests entering EnergySolutions Arena, regardless of whether the event inside is a concert or a Jazz game.
The decision to boost security was an evolutionary process for arena management and coincides with remodeling that adds a second set of doors at each entrance for environmental reasons and eases handicap access, said Randy Rigby, president of the Utah Jazz and Larry H. Miller Sports & Entertainment. He said other NBA arenas, like the Staples Center in Los Angeles, have implemented similar procedures.
Arena security is primarily looking for weighty metal objects like knives and guns.
"With the Olympics in 2002 we had this same type of security. We had no problems then and we've had no problems since. We just felt in today's world — let's make it a safer environment for our guests," Rigby said.
The new screening began Oct. 20 for the Nickelback concert and greeted fans when the Jazz season began.
Since 9/11, the NBA has required franchise arenas to conduct mandatory screening and use of security wands for a certain number of games each season, said Jazz security chief Jim Bell. "They have been very conscientious about terrorist threats on stadiums and arenas," he said.
Arena management decided it would be less intrusive and more effective to install walk-through machines instead of using hand wands on guests — and to make the security procedures standard. "This is in place for every event. Big or small, we will have this," Rigby said.
"It takes a little longer for our guests to actually just come through, so we strongly encourage them to come early," Rigby said. "Come a little earlier. Buy a Coke. Relax and enjoy."
The arena's rules about prohibited items have not changed, but the more intense screening is helping re-educate arena guests to "maybe be a little bit more cautious about what they're actually bringing into the arena," Rigby said. So even if a guest has a permit to carry a concealed weapon — that doesn't make it OK to be packin' heat to a Jazz game.
"This is a private venue. It is not a public venue, so we have the opportunity and right to limit what we have coming into our facility. We feel like knives and guns are something people ought to keep locked up in a safe place and not bring in to EnergySolutions Arena," Rigby said.
"We're catching a lot more things than we have in the past," said Guest Services and Event Security chief Scott Omer. "Nothing serious — no threats or anything like that. The hope is ultimately to keep a safe environment."