Fans waiting outside Sunday’s Bucs-Panthers game at Raymond James Stadium may have looked like they were waiting at the airport. They held tickets in hand, dug cell phones and metal objects out of their pockets, then extended their arms and prepared to face a metal detecting wand.
The NFL is having teams test out those wands, scanning each ticketholder before they walk through the gates.
Depending on how those test runs go, it could become a permanent change at stadiums across the country.
“The NFL’s looking to improve the fan experience,” says Eric Hart with the Tampa Sports Authority. “They’re just trying to make it less invasive.”
By “less invasive,” Hart is referring to how some fans were searched before football games: body patdowns.
“With the patdown search, we’d actually pat people down trying to make sure that there’s no items with them, any contraband,” Hart says. “And this is a way of looking to make it quicker and, if possible, a little better.”
On the intercom at Sunday’s game, fans were warned that they couldn’t enter the stadium without visiting one of the metal detecting wands. Those who didn’t want to be wanded, or those with certain medical conditions, could still be patted down.
Many of the fans that spoke to 10 News said they supported the less invasive wanding technique and called it a good idea to ensure safety.
“Everybody’s here for one reason,” Bucs fan Jarret Reddicliffe says. “To have a good time and watch the Bucs win.”
The NFL provided about 100 of the wands for the Tampa Sports Authority to use. A few additional personnel were also needed to operate the wands. Whether the stadium continues to use the metal detectors or resorts back to patdowns will be based on an evaluation of Sunday’s test.