Fans gearing up for the Badger basketball and hockey seasons may want to arrive a few minutes earlier to the gates this year.
Beginning Saturday, metal detectors will be used for all events held in the Kohl Center, the Wisconsin Athletics Department announced Monday.
The decision to implement metal detectors at the Kohl Center is part of a comprehensive plan to install similarly strong security measures for most Wisconsin Athletics facilities, Athletic Director Justin Doherty said.
“It just adds an additional measure of security at the Kohl Center and obviously the safety of the people in the building is top priority for us,” Doherty said.
Until now, Doherty said, security practices have been mostly visual in nature — a quick scan of bags and jackets when entering the facility.
But starting Saturday, with the Milwaukee Bucks exhibition game against the Dallas Mavericks, Kohl Center attendees will be asked to remove cell phones, cameras and keys from their pockets before going through metal detectors stationed outside the building. But fans will not need to remove items such as hats, jewelry, belts, shoes, wallets or coins.
University of Wisconsin Police Department spokesperson Marc Lovicott said implementing stronger security has been on the table for at least a couple of years, but both he and Doherty acknowledged that recent events and tensions around the country have helped prompt its implementation now.
UWPD responds to questions about safety in an active shooter situationWith two college shootings across the country already this month, University of Wisconsin Police Department is spreading the word on campus Read…
Even so, Lovicott impressed that the new measures are not a reaction to anything in particular, just an attempt to respond with vigilance and keep in line with security protocols practiced in major event spaces around the country.
“It’s something that most, if not all professional sports arenas have moved to and a lot of college sports arenas are doing the same,” Lovicott said.
As for other facilities, Lovicott said Wisconsin Athletics and UWPD are considering installing metal detectors at Camp Randall for next fall.
Learning to manage the basketball and hockey seasons at the Kohl Center is a start that will allow Wisconsin Athletics and UWPD to better handle the volume of fans at Camp Randall, Lovicott said.
“When you look at the size of Camp Randall versus the size of the Kohl Center, we’re talking a lot more people,” Lovicott said. “There may be some more challenges in getting that number of people through the gate in a timely manner … [So] we’re definitely using this to figure out best practices.”
To help circumvent any potential congestion at Kohl Center events, Doherty said gates will be open 90 minutes ahead of event start times instead of 60.
“I think most people who have been in an airport or been to a large sports facility or concerts have been through walk-through metal detectors before,” Doherty said. “It shouldn’t be something that’s unfamiliar to most people.”