What concert venues are doing to protect guests after deadly Manchester Arena attack

How they will try to make patrons safe heading into the summer.

ByABC News
May 24, 2017, 3:58 PM

— -- After 22 were killed and more than 50 others injured in Monday's bombing at an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester, England, concert venues and security organizations around the globe are rethinking how they plan to proceed heading into the summer.

Here's what you need to know:

Exit and entry are key

Nick Langella, general manager at the San Antonio Alamodome, which plans to welcome bands including Metallica and Guns N' Roses in the coming weeks, said exits have become a major place of concern after what happened in Manchester.

He told ABC News that the venue already has all the "bells and whistles" like metal detectors and other high-tech tools to screen concertgoers as they enter, but noted that the "tough part" is when "everybody leaves at once" at the end of an event.

"So, we need to come up with a strategy to get in and out at numerous points of entry and exit," he said, adding that those points need to be well staffed.

"This attacker [at Manchester] didn't just pick a target, he did his homework and knew where he would have a number of people," he said of the suspected Manchester Arena bomber Salman Abedi.

In addition to developing a better strategy for thousands of people to exit a venue, Langella said his venue has opted to do what the NFL has already done and institute a clear bag policy for anyone entering the dome.

"We have to be stringent on everyone entering now, even if it's a cheerleading competition," he added. "Anywhere where we are putting mass people together in one location."

A watershed moment

Chris Robinette, president at Prevent Advisors, a private organization that works in counterterrorism and security, shared sentiments similar to Langella. Prevent Advisors works with parent company the Oakview Group, which collaborates with almost 30 venues for concerts and sporting events around the United States under its arena alliance.

Some of their venues include and are not limited to the AT&T Center in San Antonio, The Forum in Los Angeles and the United Center in Chicago.

Robinette said the Manchester attack was a bit of a "watershed moment" in the event-space security business, as it was well planned out and "fairly sophisticated."

But even so, he said there are a lot of things security and venues can do to improve screening and monitor access space beyond the main event space itself, like parking and other areas outside the actual venue.

"It's part of reorienting our security," he said. "We need to expand our perimeters."

With that can come tech like eye-in-the-sky cameras, running 24 hours on elevated poles to monitor the parking lot or space outside the venue, not just inside, he said. His organization also uses special alert dogs that sniff for vapor trails emitted from explosive devices.

But it's also about implementing these techniques through "process engineering," looking at each building and observing the flow of people in and out. "It's putting more security in those areas," he said.

His company is also looking at what he calls the "big four" when it comes to terrorist attacks, including an active shooter, a vehicle ramming into a crowd, an explosive device and drones.

"They are starting to weaponize drones now," he said. "It's also about coordinating more with local law enforcement to be more vigilant. We should be around the parking lots and not just observe at the beginning, but the end of an event, as well."

Increased local law enforcement

Other venues like the Madison Square Garden Company, which manages such venues as MSG, the Beacon Theater, Radio City Music Hall and others in Manhattan, is also leaning on local police to up their security for upcoming shows.

The Garden, for instance, will continue its Billy Joel residency in the coming weeks with thousands of patrons.

"Madison Square Garden has increased security measures, including a greater police presence, and is continuing to work closely with local law enforcement to ensure we remain informed of any potential concerns," an MSG spokesperson told ABC News.

The same can be said across the globe and in the United Kingdom.

A rep for SSE Hydro in Glasgow, Scotland, which will welcome the iconic band Kiss later this month, told ABC News that bags fans can bring in have changed.

"We have been liaising with the appropriate authorities including Police Scotland. Security measures at the Campus have been enhanced including carrying out bag searches and full body searches. Only small bags (35cm x 40cm) [13.8 inches by 15.7 inches] will be permitted into The SSE Hydro and The Armadillo. Larger bags may be checked into the cloakroom in the SEC Centre and will be searched," said Kirsten McAlonan, head of public relations for the venue.

"At certain times, ticket checks will take place at entry points to the Campus with some access routes (such as the walkway to the station) restricted to ticket holders only," she added.

With these added measures, fans should be prepared to arrive early.

"These arrangements will mean that entry to the venues will take longer and therefore we would strongly encourage visitors to arrive early to allow time for access to the events," she said.

Related Topics