Feel Like Navigating a Crowded Stadium Is its Own Sport?
UL aims to make long security and food lines a thing of the past
Going to a pro ballgame or major concert is exciting. Trying to park or weave your way through crowds to get to your seat? Not so much.
You won't be surprised to learn many stadiums aren’t properly designed to help fans flow through security and ticket checkpoints or to easily get to their seats. Certainly you’ve waited in long lines for food or the bathroom at halftime or intermission. But at Florida's EverBank Field — the 67,000-seat stadium that's home to the Jacksonville Jaguars — that’s no longer the case. The Jaguars enlisted UL’s Continuous Improvement team to improve the fan experience.
Juan Amador, director of UL’s Center for Continuous Improvement and Innovation, says the fan experience in the stadium is vastly different now for patrons.
“The wait [in a food line] has gone from an average of 15 minutes to three minutes,” says Amador, adding that many of today’s stadiums weren’t designed by experts who understand pedestrian traffic patterns. “I think [stadium designers] assume flow rather than study it, and it’s not something that they effectively planned for.”
Stadium officials asked the UL team to examine several problem points within the stadium, Amador says. In a National Football League survey of fans, 56 percent of respondents said buying concessions, the process of entering or leaving the stadium or security were the most critical components of their experience. The UL team focused on these areas and offered several solutions:
The team examined issues on both
sides of the counter. They worked with employees to clearly define job
responsibilities and reduce inefficiencies. For example, soda and dispensing machines were positioned so employees didn't have to go far to reach them. Better signage and labeling was
added to help direct hungry fans.
Eliminated concourse traffic jams. Amador says another major stumbling point in the concourse area were traffic jams caused by long, straight lines extending into the main walking areas. The solution was to install snake fencing to create organized lines parallel to the counters.
Streamlined security checkpoints. UL advised the stadium to post security checkpoint tips and stadium rules where fans could see and read them as they approached screening areas. This helped visitors be better prepared to move through potential bottlenecks. The security perimeters around these checkpoints were made larger to better handle big crowds.
A safer stadium
Amador says these changes made the Jacksonville stadium safer.
“I think for safety it means the fans are able to enjoy the experience without worrying about how they're going to get out of a place or move through the stadium,” Amador says. “It's more convenient and comfortable.”
More safety features may be needed, though. As stadiums add airport-like screening machines to check fans for weapons or dangerous contraband, more challenges lie ahead, Amador says. UL has recommended stadiums prepare for this by possibly modifying security areas to handle crowds better, strategically position the machines and install machines that quickly localize the area on a person that may contain contraband so it will take less time to do a secondary screening using a metal-detection wand or manual inspection.
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