By Pete Bridge
Point Park News Service
Longtime Pittsburgh Steeler season ticket holder Bob Conte arrived at Heinz Field on Oct. 7 at 11:45 AM, entered the stadium without waiting in any lines, and didn’t set the metal detector wand off.
Ian Schauer, a Slippery Rock University student, waited 13 minutes to get into Gate A 45 minutes before kickoff.
“I think they are kind of a waste, they barely even wand each person,” Schauer said after the game.
Heinz Field is in its first season with the new wands as a security measure. The NFL has officially put the wands in place at all stadiums to promote proper security at the games which has led to a initiative to get fans to the games earlier to avoid long lines.
Jimmie Sacco, the director of stadium management at Heinz Field, had a major role in putting the new wands into place this season. Sacco explained that last year’s trial period prepared the staff at Heinz Field for this year’s official start.
“The NFL came up with the initiative in the middle of the season, so some stadiums like us did selected gates to get the feel for it,” Sacco said in a phone interview.
Throughout the trial period last season, some complaints arose from fans that it took longer to enter the stadium due to longer lines. The previous protocol for entrance was a head-to-toe pat down.
“There are lines but I wouldn’t say that they are any longer. That is why we encourage fans to come early and follow the procedures that are put in place such as come with the least amount of things that can set the alarms off,” Sacco said.
Fans are beginning to experience the wands for the first time as the Steelers have had two home games so far this season. Conte attended the Steelers’ game against the Philadelphia Eagles at Heinz Field with 67-year-old Patricia Kapizio. Kapizio says she feels the new wands are necessary.
“I think there’s a large group of people, and when there is a large group of people there can be a terroristic threat. We could be a target,” said Kapizio.
Kapizio said that her experiences after the terroristic attacks on Sept. 11 have shaped her to think about the security procedures more often.
“I was working on the naval base in Norfolk, Virginia when 9/11 happened so I’m very aware of precautions,” Kapizio added.
Kapizio and Conte entered Heinz Field through Gate A which is located underneath the scoreboard. The two arrived at the stadium at approximately 11:45 AM for the 1:15 PM kickoff. The lines were almost non-existent at the time and it took only two minutes for the pair to go through the wands.
Schauer, a 21-year-old who attended the Steelers game on Oct. 7, said he didn’t wait long in line because the process was quick and they did not scan his whole body.
Brian Miller of Cochranton, Pa. had never been to Heinz Field before the Oct. 7 game against the Eagles, but has attended various athletic games throughout his lifetime where wands were not put into place yet.
“You shouldn’t have to, but in this day and age I think it’s necessary. I’m surprised it took this long,” Miller said outside of Gate A at Heinz Field.
Miller’s wife, Mandy, agrees that it is surprising the wands weren’t put into place in earlier years, such as immediately after the terrorist attacks in 2001. She added that they had been to other professional games where the security didn’t match that of Heinz Field.
“I was surprised when I went to a baseball game (in Cleveland) and they didn’t have wands, they didn’t have anything,” Mandy Miller said.