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Fan Safety Top Priority For Lambeau Field Security Staff


When Lambeau Field was renovated to become a year-round destination facility, the number of employees that it took to manage the venue grew along with it.

The team's Pro Shop staff nearly doubled and new departments were created to handle business events in the Atrium -- the five-story addition that sits on the east side of the stadium.

But no administrative department changed as dramatically as the Lambeau Field security staff, which swelled from a one-man operation to a staff of 20 individuals.

Prior to the stadium's renovation, Jerry Parins, the team's director of corporate security, was the only full-time member of the security crew. But with the building additions came the need for staff additions, and while Parins continues to coordinate security issues related to the football team, assistant director Doug Collins oversees the day-to-day safekeeping of the stadium and its visitors.

Collins supervises 13 full-time and five part-time security staffers whose responsibilities include everything from operating the stadium's command room to escorting visitors to their proper destination within the 1.6 million-square-foot facility.

"It's heavily customer-oriented because we sort of stick out," Collins said of his staff's duties. "We're just more visible than a lot of other departments that work in their offices. We're out there amongst the people, answering questions and helping anybody we can along with things like making sure doors stay locked and visitors stay where they belong."

It was the Packers organization's desire to serve the stadium's daily visitors that led to the formation of a larger security staff. Initially after the Atrium became operational in the summer of 2002, Collins was one of just four security members on site. Now there are three security guards on almost every shift with more on busy days.

"We needed extra personnel to help be hands-on, to help customers feel more secure and to help our staff feel more secure while they're here," Collins said from his office adjacent to the command room.

The Lambeau Field Atrium has several amenities to attract visitors on a daily basis, including three restaurants -- Curly's Pub, Paparazzi Pizza and Frozen In Time Ice Cream -- the Pro Shop and the Packers Hall of Fame.

But perhaps the biggest reason for the increased volume in foot traffic at the stadium has to do with the Atrium's capacity to host special events, such as corporate meetings, luncheons and even baptisms and weddings.

For example, on a weekday in March, the Lambeau Field Atrium was the site of two separate meetings on the Associated Bank Club Level, a 300-person dinner in the Legends Club, and a 600-person dinner and dance on the main floor.

On busy days like that, Collins usually schedules extra staff.

"It all depends on the size of the event or if there is another event in a different area," he said. "All those things play a factor. We're also there to make sure patrons from Curly's Pub and the other restaurants don't mistakenly join a wedding party."

While much of the security staff's work involves directly serving fans and Lambeau Field visitors, a good portion also goes on behind the scenes from the building's command room where a security guard is stationed around the clock, 365 days a year.

"One person runs what we call the command center or the command room, which controls all the cameras, all the alarm systems, all the lights and all the doors," said Collins, a former police officer. "That person can dispatch the other security officers to alarms that come in, to doors they see open, to cars blocking the players' parking lot."

More than 60 cameras help the staff stay aware of happenings inside the facility and outside in the parking lot. The equipment is state-of-the-art and is complete with a variety of tools to help ensure the highest level of safety.

"The whole system is designed to record, depending on how much activity is going on, between seven and 10 days worth of digital information," Collins said. "If we find damage, we can roll the footage back and find out who (was responsible)."

In addition to security duties, the staff also finds itself assisting in many other areas due to the fact there are always multiple officers on hand who are trained in a variety of areas, including first aid.

"We also handle liability issues," Collins said. "We make sure the sidewalks are salted and sanded if maintenance isn't available, and we try to mop any wet spots on the floor. And we do the initial reporting on any accidents or injuries that might occur."

The security staff also has a role in the daily deliveries that arrive at Lambeau Field. Though busier during the season, even in the offseason Collins' staff directs the drop-off of everything from network satellite equipment to office supplies like paper to food for the stadium's restaurants.

"We have a guard six days a week at our loading dock who checks every load against the loading schedule to make sure it is allowed in," Collins said. "We also do frequent inspections of the loads when items are dropped off."

The staff does all this with one goal in mind: to keep the team and its fans safe.

Judging by its record, the security team is meeting that goal. No major incidents have been reported since the stadium's opening, something Collins is quite proud of.

"It's been pretty good," he said. "It's been a smooth transition. We have been able to stay on top of things, and hopefully we can continue that way. So far we have been servicing the special events and our daily customers and fans in a way that there hasn't been any key issues."

But don't expect the security staff to rest on its past achievements. This summer's training camp will mark the first time the Atrium and its amenities will be fully operational, and Collins said his staff is looking forward to the daunting task of keeping order.

"Last season during training camp, Curly's Pub wasn't open, Paparazzi Pizza wasn't open and the Atrium was a new space," he said. "There wasn't much to do other than look around. This time around we'll have stadium tours, the Hall of Fame is open, and all the restaurants and stores are going to do special things during training camp to excite the fans and get them involved up here in the facility.

"So it's going to be another challenging time for us. But we're getting good preparation now with numerous special events, sometimes four at a time."

No longer is stadium security a one-man operation.

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