With the world still reeling from last week’s terrorist attacks in Paris, security will be heightened Sunday in and around Bank of America Stadium for the Carolina Panthers game against Washington, police and the team said Thursday.
And authorities said fans should expect an increased police presence and beefed up security measures at Panthers games and other large events for the foreseeable future.
City Manager Ron Carlee has declared Sunday’s game an extraordinary event, expanding officers’ authority to search fans near the gates of the stadium and in surrounding parking lots popular with tailgaters. The city does not routinely declare football games and other events at Bank of America stadium extraordinary events. Fans should expect to see an increase in security outside entry gates.
Charlotte-Mecklenburg police will have a larger presence with more officers on bike patrol, and patrons will see additional observation towers in the area, the team said Thursday. CMPD Deputy Chief Jeff Estes encouraged tailgaters and others attending the game to report any suspicious activity to police.
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“It is an unfortunate state of affairs that we have to be in this situation,” Estes said. “...The world climate is changing and right now for the foreseeable future, this is the environment we’ll be in. To do anything less would be irresponsible.”
The Panthers had already been reviewing their security after protesters managed to rappel from the upper deck of the stadium during a Monday Night Football game versus the Indianapolis Colts. The protesters said they passed through security with the rappelling equipment, raising questions about whether Panthers security was capable of keeping someone with more nefarious intentions out. Eleven days later, 129 people were killed in a coordinated series of attacks in France, igniting terrorism fears across the world.
Estes said Thursday that no one had levied a specific threat against Bank of America Stadium or Sunday’s game, but that safety concerns remained.
The National Football League also increased security inside and outside of stadiums for last weekend’s games after the Paris attacks.
“As always, the safety of our fans, stadium personnel, and the teams remain our first priority,” said Lance Emory, Carolina Panthers executive director of risk management. “We will have heightened security on game day and encourage fans to arrive early and leave bags at home if at all possible.”
Going to the game?
On Thursday, the Panthers offered this advice for fans headed to the Carolina-Washington game:
▪ Try to arrive at the stadium a few minutes earlier than you typically do on gameday.
▪ Leave bags at home, but if you must bring a bag, limit items in the bag. If security is unable to see all items in the clear bags, or if the clear bag is larger than 12-by-12-by-6-inches, you will not be permitted to enter the Bag Check or Express lines.
▪ The team offers free clear bags at tents at Graham Street and Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard; at Mint and Stonewall streets; at Mint and Morehead streets, and near the practice field.
▪ Purses and bags smaller than 4.5-by-6.5-inches are permitted after inspection at the gates. If the purse or bag is larger, you will not be permitted to enter the Bag Check or Express lines.
▪ It is more efficient to use Express lines. Remove all metal objects from your pockets prior to reaching a screener.
▪ Unzip jackets and remove hats as you approach the screeners.