Metal detectors may speed Lambeau Field entry
GREEN BAY - Football fans should find it easier to get into Lambeau Field this year.
The Green Bay Packers will screen fans with walk-through metal detectors at all gates. The procedure was used for Family Night two weeks ago, but beginning with Friday night's preseason game against the Cleveland Browns, gates also will include express lanes for people bringing only pocket items, such as keys and cellphones, into the stadium.
"It should be faster and more convenient for them as they enter the stadium," said Doug Collins, Packers security director.
Collins said Family Night implementation worked well, allowing 50,000 fans to enter the stadium within an hour. In previous years, the team used handheld wands to scan fans.
"It's more consistent," Collins said of the walk-through detectors, which cost the team about $1 million to cover the entire stadium. They also hired more game-day personnel to man them.
Detectors were used on one gate last season on a trial basis.
"We caught a lot of stuff at the trial gate ... a lot of knives, a lot of things that during hunting season they forget are in their pockets," Collins said. "There's a lot of that stuff."
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Whether using express lanes or not, Collins encouraged fans to bring as little as possible into the stadium.
"The biggest thing is to leave all unessential items at home. Bring as little as possible. If you do have to bring some stuff with you, bring it in a clear plastic bag or clear purse," Collins said.
The metal detectors are similar to those used at airports, but with a sports setting, so fans will not be required to remove belts, shoes, wallets and the like.
The NFL required all teams to use walk-through detectors this season.
For fans bringing items into the stadium, the rules are the same as previous years. Bags and purses must be clear plastic vinyl or PVC and not larger than 12 inches by 6 inches by 12 inches. Small clutches that do not exceed 4.5 inches by 6.5 inches are permitted. Stadium cushions are not allowed, but stadium seats and stadium pads that have no pockets or zippers and are less than 18 inches wide are allowed. Items will be inspected as fans enter the stadium.
Fans using express lanes will be asked to hold their keys and cellphone above their heads as they enter the stadium. Lights on the backside of the units indicate where metal is detected. If the lights match the items in the hand, individuals can keep moving. If there is metal somewhere else on the body, the lights pinpoint the area and security officers need only check that spot.
"The lights show exactly where it's at," Collins said. "The officer doesn't have to ask, 'Where is it?'" or do an extensive pat-down.
Also, the Packers are reminding people that unauthorized solicitations are prohibited on game days in the stadium or Packers-controlled parking lots. Collins said tailgaters have notified the team of increasing requests for donations, some of which have been scams.
"We don't want them to feel they are being hounded around every corner," he said.
The Packers partner with organizations for authorized collections, such as for Coats for Kids or Toys for Tots, and place collection bins around the stadium.