I’ve been out on vacation for the past couple of days, and got to spend a great deal of time in Yosemite National Park but I also got to take in San Francisco once again as well as to attend a SF Giants game at AT&T Park.
Now, I was in the middle of Yosemite when the Boston Marathon bombing occurred, and it took a few days to get a reliable connection to find out what was going on, so we figured that when we got to the game, we would need some extra time to get in due to heightened security.
Boy, were we not ready for what we experienced. Actually, I think the Giants were the ones who weren’t ready - and I’ve got to say that it bordered on sheer incompetence.
We expected there to be lines and extra security for screening bags and people would get wanded with metal detectors.
We got the lines alright. We got seats in the LF corner, so we attempted to get in at the 2d Street Gate. The lines wrapped all the way towards the Bay Bridge in one direction and down the other way to where they mixed with the folks trying to get in at Willie Mays Plaza. And the lines weren’t moving particularly well either, despite people being told to get to the park early with the stadium opening to fans 2 hours before the game.
For the most part, the crowds were cordial and friendly - most everyone understood the need for screening, but not for what would come later.
We had arrived around 6pm, figuring an hour to get in the ballpark would be sufficient (the game was a 7pm start). After all, we’ve dealt with heightened security at Yankee Stadium, Shea Stadium, and CitiField for baseball games and we had both wanding and bag checks and sped along to our seats with minimal delays or trouble.
So it was rather shocking to see after 2 hours of waiting on a line that barely moved that when we got to the gate itself there was a single guy barely able to keep up with all the bag checks and no one wanding those coming into the ballpark.
People were thrusting bags onto a table and the poor guy was barely able to keep up with all the bags, let alone carrying out any kind of meaningful check. Patting the bag isn’t particularly useful if you’re not going to view the contents.
There was no one wanding or patting down fans as they entered the stadium at the gate either. It was absurd.
Security is only as good as the least secured/defended position, so even if every other entry point to the ballpark had proper security, it was completely undone by this asinine and ridiculous setup. People waited for hours and for what?
This is security theater at its worst - and it’s incomprehensible as to why the Giants didn’t have sufficient staff to handle the crowds. It’s not like they had a day to figure out what to do or that they’ve never had to deal with a national security event before. They’ve been to the World Series and won them in the past couple of years. They had a couple of days to prepare for the security needs at the ballpark. They know how to do security. But here they failed.
I’ve had more thorough bag checks when going on PATH in New York City, let alone attending a sports event.
It was disheartening to see on several levels. For one, we needed to have the bag checks at all - and that it’s expected at sporting events following 9/11, but after the Boston bombing it hit home once again there are people who have every intention of causing mayhem and carnage at events where the public gathers.
Yet, on another level, it’s disheartening that the Giants were woefully unprepared to deal with the security at all gates for all patrons before the game. Hopefully they’ll have learned the lessons from our game, and do a much more thorough and efficient security check going forward.
Oh, and as for the stadium and game itself. It was loads of fun and the Giants won in the bottom of the 9th, so the fans went home happy - especially after a nice fireworks show.