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Security experts said that “sports leagues and law-enforcement agencies, fearing a retaliatory attack after the death of Osama bin Laden, will beef up security at baseball parks, basketball arenas and other athletic venues for at least the next few weeks,” according to Michael O’Keeffe of the N.Y. DAILY NEWS. The experts said that they are “not aware of any intelligence that puts sports venues in the crosshairs of Al Qaeda and other terrorist organizations.” But stadiums and arenas are “obvious targets for extremists who want to get the most bang out of an attack.” The NBA yesterday announced that it “will increase security procedures for the conference semifinals and the remainder of the postseason.” Fans attending the Hawks-Bulls Eastern Conference semifinal at United Center “will be screened with hand-held metal detectors, which are only used when officials feel they are warranted.” Experts said that they expect MLB “will also increase security measures, although an MLB spokesman declined to discuss what steps the sport will take to ensure the safety of fans in the wake of bin Laden's death.” RAND Corp. terrorism analyst Brian Jackson said that it is “unlikely that Al Qaeda and its affiliated organizations will hit a ballpark or any other target in the United States to retaliate for bin Laden's death any time soon.” But he added that it is “important for sport venues to prepare immediately for any brushback” (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 5/3).
PROTECTING THE RINGS: IOC President Jacques Rogge yesterday said that security at the '12 London Games “remains the ‘top priority’ and is not affected by the death” of bin Laden. Rogge said that the IOC’s security strategy “has remained the same since the killing of 11 Israeli athletes and coaches” at the '72 Munich Games. Security at the ’12 Olympics “has always been a top issue for British organizers.” The terror threat was “brought home the day after London was awarded the games in 2005, when homegrown suicide bombers attacked the city's transit network, killing 52 people” (AP, 5/2). Rogge yesterday “declined to comment about the killing” of bin Laden, saying it was a "political issue.'' In Chicago, Philip Hersh wrote, “A political issue? Isn't that something that has to do with elections? Or whether to cut taxes or spending? Or whom to appoint as a cabinet minister?" Perhaps Rogge's comment "attests to the true stature of the IOC: a pompous, feckless bunch whose president is the Grand Panjandrum" (CHICAGOTRIBUNE.com, 5/2).
A SPEEDY RESPONSE: Indianapolis Public Safety Dir Frank Straub said security would be "ramped up" for the May 29 Indianapolis 500. Straub said that officials “will conduct random vehicle checkpoints, use radiation detectors and make use of license plate readers” (INDIANAPOLIS STAR, 5/3).
ESPN.com’s Pat Yasinskas noted NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell yesterday conducted a conference call with Falcons season-ticket holders, and a fan asked Goodell “to guarantee a Super Bowl if a new stadium comes to Atlanta.” Goodell “sounded as if another Super Bowl in Georgia is a possibility,” but he “stopped short of making any promise.” Goodell: “You have a great community. I think the stadium [Falcons Owner Arthur Blank] is talking about is going to be a great stadium. Hopefully, it will be a great host for the Super Bowl in the future” (ESPN.com, 5/2).
STORE OPENING: In Chicago, Wailin Wong reports a “new two-level White Sox team store will open at U.S. Cellular Field in the fall, selling White Sox merchandise along with products for other Chicago-area professional and college teams.” Delaware North Companies Sportservice, which operates food and retail outlets at U.S. Cellular Field, will “run the new 13,000-square foot store.” The company said the “signature element of the new store will be a digital staircase, which will showcase images as customers move to and from the second level" (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 5/3).
BREAKFAST ON THE HOUSE: SMI Chair & CEO Bruton Smith said that on July 10, the day after the inaugural NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Quaker State 400 at Kentucky Speedway, he is “throwing a free breakfast for anyone still” at the track. Smith: "Stay all night after the race. Or stop by. Either way, breakfast is free." Smith also said that he is “considering adding 10,000-15,000 temporary seats” for this year's Cup race if “ticket sales remain brisk.” Smith added that there have also been “12 new elevators installed to make it easier for fans to navigate the two new grandstand towers” (LEXINGTON HERALD-LEADER, 5/3).
SOLID SHOWING: In Detroit, Vince Ellis noted the Palace of Auburn Hills and DTE Energy Music Theater were the “top-two venues in the Midwest in terms of ticket sales and attendance in 2010 -- a solid year” for the two Palace Sports & Entertainment assets (DETROIT FREE PRESS, 5/2).