The start of JMU football’s 2019 season will be accompanied by numerous security changes at Bridgeforth Stadium. While fans may be accustomed to simply scanning their ticket at the gate to gain entry, new and enhanced security measures will ensure that students, players and visitors remain safe during game time.
This year, those who visit Bridgeforth Stadium will be greeted by walk-through metal detectors at all gates upon arrival. Despite this security measure, shoes, belts, cell phones and small key rings won’t need to be removed. Kevin Warner, assistant athletic director for communications, said the enhanced security measures have been in the works for over a year.
Mike Carpenter, assistant athletic director for ticketing & customer relations, said the metal detectors will only be in search of metal that is 4 ½ inches or bigger in size. Those who are unable to pass through metal detectors for health or accessibility reasons will be able to take part in alternative screening, according to a press release. Metal detectors will be located outside the gates visitors pass through prior to scanning their ticket.
Carpenter said those wishing to bring in a purse, clutch or wallet may do so as long as it’s smaller than 6 ½ inches by 4 ½ inches.
“We have more metal detectors than we have gates, so we feel good about having an adequate flow to get folks in, but it is something to keep in mind as you arrive to the stadium,” Carpenter said in a press conference. “Maybe give yourself a little more time to make sure you get through and get in your seats well before game time.”
Additionally, visitors will only be permitted to bring clear bags into Bridgeforth Stadium under the condition that they’re 12-by-12-by-6-inches or smaller in size.
Season ticket holders received a complimentary clear bag to bring into Bridgeforth Stadium. The university also has clear bags for sale at the on-campus bookstore, and there will be select clear bag giveaways at the first home game. The first 500 individuals who stop by the Fan Zone on the Godwin Patio prior to the game will receive a free clear bag, and the Duke Club will also be giving away complimentary clear bags. Although one can see through them, the staff will still search the bags upon arrival. This measure is being implemented to ensure guests don’t bring in items that endanger one another while maintaining the convenience a bag provides.
“[We’re] encouraging everybody to have that clear bag queued up for everybody in their group so when they arrive, they’ll be ready to go and not have a problem getting in,” Carpenter said.
Additionally, Carol Benassi, JMU alumna (‘82) has been selling clear bags for over a year. Benassi began selling them for JMU fans to take to away games where similar measures were already put in place, but now that the same is true for Bridgeforth, they’ve increased in popularity. With the new guidelines set in place, Benassi is expanding her product base.
“I’ve been working with [the manufacturers] on some new stuff, where they’ll actually look like purses instead of just a bag,” Benassi said. “I actually have some new things rolling out … they sell really well, and we’ll keep selling them.”
The widespread availability of clear bags are the result of an attempt to spread the word regarding the new policies and make entry into Bridgeforth Stadium as seamless as possible on game day.
“It’s trying to hit as many different communication mechanisms as we can,” Warner said. “Now, when you have 25,000 people coming, are you going to hit all of them? I don’t know, but we want to try to hit as many as we can.”
Contact Connor Murphy at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more football coverage, follow the sports desk on Twitter @TheBreezeSports.