Cardinals gearing up for tighter security measures

News-DemocratJanuary 23, 2014 

Busch Stadium.

FOR BND

St. Louis Cardinals fans aren't likely to see metal detectors and other increases in security at Busch Stadium this season, despite Major League Baseball's edict that ballparks increase efforts to keep out weapons.

The new security measures are required to be in place in 2015, and the Cardinals are still in the early planning stages. The details of what changes will be made are unclear, although team spokeswoman Melody Yount said they will be made with fans first in mind.

"I know we aren't implementing security wands until next year, which is the requirement," Yount said. "There is quite a bit of cost involved and a lot of things need to be worked out. So the big changes won't come until 2015."

Major League Baseball announced Wednesday that it would require all of its teams to implement sweeping security improvements in time for the 2015 season. The changes include all parks being required to scan all fans with either a walk-through metal detector or a hand-held wand.

The Cardinals plan to test some things throughout the 2014 season, however.

"We have to figure out the logistics of getting 3 million people through the gates per season, 45,000 per night," she said. "That's not something that is going to be easy to accomplish."

Yount said she doesn't yet know whether the security plans will prohibit purses and large bags from being brought into Busch Stadium like they have been banned from the Edward Jones Dome and other NFL facilities. She said the Cardinals are hopeful of being able to continue the St. Louis tradition of allowing fans to bring soft-sided coolers full of snacks and soft drinks into the ballpark.

"I don't anticipate that is going to change," Yount said of bringing food and soft drinks to games. "The plan is to keep it and I don't think it will be an issue."

The Cardinals, according to Yount, are the only team in the major leagues that still allows outside food and non-alcoholic drinks to be brought into the park.

"That's something we're proud of and we don't want to see it change," Yount said.

Cardinals fans said Thursday that they were open-minded about the increased security.

"I think it's a good idea," Collinsville resident Rachel Chaney said as she shopped for team merchandise at the Cardinals Clubhouse at St. Clair Square in Fairview Heights with her son, Lucas, 7. "We try to go to as many games as we can. Probably more this year than in the past because my son is a little bit older and really into it. So security is something that you have to think about."

Chaney said in the past she has been surprised by how little security there is at the gate.

"I carry a big bag with me and sometimes they barely check it," Chaney said. "People could be bringing in anything. So I'm glad better security is something that they're thinking about."

Mike and Suzanne Schmidt, of Belleville, were Cardinals cap shopping at the mall.

"It may be a hassle," Mike Schmidt said, "but it's a necessary hassle."

His wife added, "That's just the world we live in today. It's a sign of the times."

Suzanne Schmidt said it's a big help to people to be allowed to bring in drinks and snacks because it allows them to better afford tickets to games.

"But safety is the most important thing," she said.

Mike Palovcsik, assistant manager of the St. Clair Square Cardinals Clubhouse store, said the issue of the security changes has been a hot topic among Cardinals fans. But he said he hasn't yet heard anyone complain about the potential longer waits to get into the park or the possibility about not being able to bring in things that they could before.

The National Football League in 2013 visibly increased its stadium security policy, creating some stir when it banned women from carrying in large purses. Instead, fans who required bags to carry their belongings were required to use ones made out of clear plastic.

During the World Series in 2013, baseball had a much stronger security presence than usual for regular season games. Both uniformed police officers and military security could be seen in and around the ballpark, some of them carrying chemical and biological weapons detectors.

Yount said the World Series was a good trial run of having extra security. But she said there is a big difference between ramping up for a high-profile event and having to run people through that sort of security 81 times a season.

"The Cardinals understand the need for it," Yount said. "We just need to find the best way to make things work."

Contact reporter Scott Wuerz at swuerz@bnd.com or call 239-2626.

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