How Safe Are Parking Lots?

Gil Fried, Professor, University of New Haven

dodgers
Most stadiums, such ad Dodger Stadium, have rules of conduct coming into the facility.

The Bureau of Justice Statistics has indicated that more than 7% of violent attacks occur in parking facilities (Fickes, 2016). Whether tailgating, assaults or other issues, facility  managers needs to more proactively manage risks in parking lots. There are a number of liability cases where spectators have recovered for their injuries in a parking lot outside a stadium. In a recent case, a San Francisco Giant’s fan was attacked in the parking lot of the Los Angeles Dodgers. The game was a highly spirited opening game of the season between the two rivals. Mr. Stow was viciously attacked after the game when heading towards his car by some intoxicated thugs. The case drew significant media attention and resulted in a $13 million verdict against the Dodgers’ prior owner (Fried, 2015).

Over the past couple years, the number of incidents occurring in stadium and arena parking lots has dramatically increased in the United States. Some recent examples include:

  • In August 2011 two men were shot and wounded in the Candlestick park parking lot after a preseason night football game (Goldfine, 2011).
  • In 2013, Jonathan Denver, 24, was fatally stabbed in a fight outside AT&T Park in San Francisco after a game between the Giants and the Los Angeles Dodgers (Gomez and Melvin, 2013).
  • In December 2013, in the same parking lot, a man died during a confrontation during the Chiefs’ game against the Denver Broncos. (Associated Press, 2014).
  • Several weeks’ later at least three people were stabbed in a parking lot at the Denver Broncos’ stadium after a night game, allegedly stemming from a fight over a near fender bender (ESPN 2013).
  • Another fan, was shot in the head in Lot 10 outside AT&T Stadium around an hour and a half after the Dallas Cowboys lost to the New England Patriots. The shooting in 2015 was disturbing for a number of reasons, one being that the shooter was being encouraged by others to shoot (Hensley, 2015).
tailgating
Tailgating can create both a festive and possibly dangerous environment.

These examples show that fights or confrontations in a parking lot are not so unusual. Whenever there are numerous people moving around, excited or upset about a game’s outcome, possibly intoxicated, and faced with the prospects of waiting for up to an hour or more to exit a parking lot…tempers can be high. That is why any crowd management, risk management, or security plan needs to analyze conditions outside a stadium or arena as much as inside.

Some strategies to help reduce the risk of threats in parking lots include:

  • Using crime prevention through environmental design (CPTED) process to improve the line of sight, remove trees/bushes, buildings and other obstructions that makes it more difficult to see what is going on in the parking lot.
  • Appropriate lighting is needed to minimize dark areas and improve visibility.
  • Training all those who will work in the parking area to serve as eyes and ears to address all violations of policies, interact with fans to make sure they know there is a security presence, spot disturbances and intervene as quickly as possible, monitoring as much at the end of the game as at the start of the game, and watch for vandalism/theft issues as examples.
  • Having enough people patrolling the lots in various vehicles such as on foot, bikes, golf carts, and other vehicles to effectively maneuver around vehicles and people.
  • Have at least one elevated viewing platform for police or security if the lot is large enough to warrant such a structure.
  • Have enough high resolution CCTV positioned to effectively monitor the parking lot and record any disturbances.
  • Schedule a pre-season meeting with all parties (officials, police, security, etc..) to get everyone on the same page, and have regular debriefings to discuss what is going right as well as what steps can be taken to correct any potential problems.
  • Communicate safety strategies with fans through fliers, scoreboard, public address, and other means.
  • Some parking facilities are experimenting with parking lots dedicated to families and women to help provide a safer environment (Mosebar, 2015).

There can be no guarantee that a facility will be 100% safe.  If there have been past instances of assaults, crimes, etc… then a facility is on notice that such actions can occur. That is where facilities can face significant liability. Thus, sport facilities need to monitor what is going on in their parking lots and undertake some of the strategies mentioned above to reduce the chance of future assaults and possible liability. There is no magic formula as to what needs to be done, but the more strategies that are used and that can be proven, the better defense a facility can have if they get sued.

References

Associated Press (2014, February 21). Man charged in death of fan. 

Bearman v. University of Notre Dame (453 N.E.2d 1196 (1983).

ESPN.com news service (2013). Three stabbed after Broncos game.

Fickes, M. (2016, September). 9 keys to building security. Buildings, 30-34.

Fried, G. (2015). Lessons from Stow. Connecticut Lawyer 26 (3) 18-20.

Goldfine, S. (2011). Security burns brighter at Candlestick Park. Security Sales & Integration 33 (12) 40-44.

Gomez, M and Melvin, J. (2013, September 26). Jonathan Denver, 24, son of Dodgers security guard, stabbed to death following San Francisco Giants game.

Hensley, N. (2015). Man shot in head during Dallas Cowboys tailgate fight outside AT&T Stadium after crowd goaded gunman.

Mosebar, J. 92015). Parking spaces. Security-Today 19 (9) 75-77.

What makes a successful golf management university program?

By Matthew Walker, Ph.D.
Texas A&M University

Training the next generation of employees, managers, and future leaders is an essential and necessary practice for any industry. This practice is especially important for industries pro-golf-imagewhere economic conditions, coupled with waning consumer interest, has reduced the aggregate value and revenue generating potential of the service. This is the case for the Golf Industry in the United States, where approximately 5.9 million golfers left the sport between 2003 and 2014, and approximately 160 courses closed in 2013, marking the eighth straight year for this latter trend (NGF, 2014). In light of these and other data showing fluctuations in key industry metrics (e.g., rounds per year and consumer spending), it is imperative to assess whether employment/training programs are equipped to deal with shifting industry challenges.

The PGA of America is well-aware of these and others challenges facing the Golf Industry in the United States. One tactic the PGA is taking to reverse this trend is to focus on their educational programming. Their aim is to ensure new leaders in the field are highly qualified, motivated, and well-prepared to exceed stakeholder expectations. This concern was the catalyst for sponsoring a recent research project intended to evaluate the delivery and impact of golf management university (GMU) programs around the nation.

The GMU landscape has a long history, stretching back to the mid-1970s, when the first program at Ferris State University was initially established. Since that time, the PGA of America has officially accredited 21 programs, with 18 active programs currently delivering golf management content to hundreds of students nationwide. The 4-5 year programs are designed for aspiring PGA Professionals and are intended to be skill acquisition-based with a heavy emphasis on field experiences and experiential learning. Combined with campus instruction, primarily housed in business schools around the country, the students are exposed to courses ranging from introduction to teaching golf, food and beverage management, and merchandising, among others. The programs provide students the opportunity to acquire the knowledge and skills necessary for success in the golf industry and collectively boast an impressive 100% job placement rate upon graduation.

These elements make for a degree path that is especially enticing for students interested in a golf management career. However, new student enrollment has waned in recent years, and the programs are plagued by high rates of student attrition, low graduation rates, and waning demand for the degree. Combined with a slowing market for recreational golf in the US, the PGA of America was keenly interested in better understanding the influence and impact of the GMU programs to help plot a course for their future direction.

hlkn_stacked-sportmanagementA team of sport management faculty from Texas A&M University comprised of Drs. Matthew Walker, Steven Salaga, George Cunningham, Paul Keiper, and Paul Batista were awarded nearly $200,000 from the PGA of America to evaluate the GMU landscape and formally identify and compare the characteristics of high and low performing GMU Programs. To this end, the research team engaged in a multi-step, iterative research process, which included: (1) qualitative and quantitative data collection aimed at understanding the attributes and perceptions of PGA GMU Programs; (2) estimates of the strength of relationships between program data, individual student characteristics, and economic factors; and (3) a market analysis to assess high school golfer awareness of and intentions to pursue a PGA GMU degree. Multiple data collection methods and analysis procedures were employed to ensure substantive conclusions could be most confidently derived by triangulating across measures and methods with non-overlapping strengths and weaknesses.

Based on the performance evaluation, the results showed the highest performing programs separated themselves from their peers through programmatic features, student engagement, connections with the industry, and attention to assessment and evaluation. The majority of these areas were closely tied to program delivery, student quality and commitment, and quality cohort management. In the aggregate, the programs are struggling with producing industry leaders with the acumen necessary to deal with various managerial challenges. Among the recommendations delivered to the PGA of America were: a renewed focus on innovation, a more committed stance for increasing diversity, a more robust standards and expectations evaluation for the member programs, and strategies designed to bolster new student recruitment and existing student retention.