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SBD/April 16, 2013/Events and AttractionsPrint All
The London Marathon “will go ahead as planned this Sunday despite fears over the safety of runners and spectators following the explosions” at the Boston Marathon yesterday, according to Nick Pearce of the London TELEGRAPH. U.K. Sports Minister Hugh Robertson said that there was “no question of calling off the event and that he was ‘absolutely’ confident of keeping the event safe and secure.” Marathon organizers “will be reviewing the security measures for the race.” Robertson said that London’s “recent experiences of hosting an incident-free Olympic Games left it well prepared” (London TELEGRAPH, 4/16). USA TODAY’s Kelly Whiteside notes London is “familiar with large-scale security operations,” but marathons are “difficult events to police.” London Marathon CEO Nick Bitel: “When you have an event of any nature, a marathon, parade, it’s only as safe as the city itself. If it’s not held in a stadium, you can’t do a lockdown like you may do in a building” (USA TODAY, 4/16). Robertson when asked if he believed the event should go on said, “Yes, I do. These are a balance of judgments but we are absolutely confident here that we can keep the event safe and secure. I think this is one of those incidents where the best way to show solidarity with Boston is to continue and send a very clear message to those responsible.” In London, O’Connor & O’Neill note the London Marathon is “the world’s largest, attracting more than 37,000 entries last year and 650,000 spectators.” But it has “long been considered a potential terrorist target” (LONDON TIMES, 4/16). Metropolitan Police Chief Superintendent Julia Pendry said that “although a well-oiled security plan was already in place, it would be immediately revisited in co-operation with organizers” (GUARDIAN, 4/16). A security official said that there is “no known specific or credible threat” currently against the London Marathon (London INDEPENDENT, 4/16).
SALT LAKE A GO FOR SATURDAY: Salt Lake City Marathon Dir Steve Bingham said that the organization “did not once entertain the notion of canceling Saturday’s race after learning of the explosions in Boston.” Bingham said that there “will be a public safety meeting” today, one that has “been on the books for months, which will feature organizers, law enforcement and representatives from the cities involved with the marathon.” Salt Lake City Police Chief Chris Burbank said that his department “will review and perhaps update security plans over the coming days” (SALT LAKE TRIBUNE, 4/16). Bingham said that organizers have been “meeting each month with local police agencies to review security and a meeting was already scheduled” for this morning. Former '02 Salt Lake Games Organizing Committee COO Fraser Bullock said that “vigilance along the race route can be provided through police, bomb-sniffing dogs and volunteers, but it comes down to whether someone tries to take advantage of any ‘weak spots’ along the way.” In Utah, Amy Donaldson notes the race “will attract between 7,000 and 10,000 participants” (DESERET NEWS, 4/16).
NYRR UNCERTAIN ABOUT HALF-MARATHON: The BOSTON HERALD notes the N.Y. Road Runners Half-Marathon is “scheduled for May 18 in Brooklyn,” but it is “unclear whether it will go ahead” (BOSTON HERALD, 4/16). In N.Y., Nathaniel Vinton notes this year’s N.Y. Marathon, which is “expected to draw more than 40,000 competitors and countless supporters to the city, is scheduled for Nov. 3.” NYRR President & CEO Mary Wittenberg in a statement said, "The safety and security of all New York Road Runners' races is and will always be our top priority. We will continue to work hand in hand with the City of New York and the NYPD as we plan for upcoming events” (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 4/16).
MONITORING EVENTS: In Indianapolis, Jill Disis notes the Indy 500 Festival Mini-Marathon is May 4, and Indianapolis Public Safety Dir Troy Riggs said that local law enforcement is “paying careful attention to the events unfolding in Boston.” Riggs said that he “planned to review all operational plans for the annual 13.1 mile race through city streets and around Indianapolis Motor Speedway.” The race “draws about 35,000 people annually.” Riggs said that he “thought Mini-Marathon participants have no reason to be worried” (INDIANAPOLIS STAR, 4/16). Meanwhile, Louisville officials said that it is “too soon to say whether the explosions at the Boston Marathon will result in security changes for the Kentucky Derby and Derby Festival.” Kentucky Derby Festival officials yesterday said that the Thunder Over Louisville fireworks and airshow “will continue as scheduled Saturday.” Festival CEO Mike Berry said that the “same is true for the Kentucky Derby Festival Marathon and Mini-Marathon scheduled for April 27.” Festival VP Matt Gibson said that those events are “expected to draw 17,000 race participants and about 40,000 spectators” (Louisville COURIER-JOURNAL, 4/16)....
STEPPING UP SECURITY: Nashville Metro Police Chief Steve Anderson said that security “will be stepped up” for the Country Music Marathon and Half-Marathon on April 27. About 30,000 participants are expected (TENNESSEAN.com, 4/15)....Competitor Group President & CEO Scott Dickey, whose group oversees the Rock & Roll Marathon Series, said precautions will be taken "to the next level" following the Boston bombings. But he did not give any specifics (SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE, 4/16)....The Mercedes-Benz Miami Corporate Run is expected to have “more than 25,000 runners ... converge in downtown Miami” for the event on April 25. As of yesterday, “460 tents -- at least 50 more than ever before -- had been ordered by participating teams.” The tents “will cover much of Bayfront Park.” Race Dir & Producer Hans Huseby said that race representatives “will meet with Miami Fire-Rescue officials” this morning to “discuss the situation, then meet with Miami police later in the day” (MIAMI HERALD, 4/16).
Event directors around the world will “face heightened pressure to tighten security at outdoor competitions that draw tens of thousands of spectators” in the wake of the Boston Marathon bombings, but the task “won’t be easy,” according to Helliker & Barrett of the WALL STREET JOURNAL. Former U.S. Army Delta Force officer Jim Reese, whose security firm, TigerSwan, is preparing a security plan for some Brazilian clients ahead of the ‘14 World Cup in Brazil, said of a marathon, “It’s a soft target, stretched out across 26 miles. It would be very difficult to secure.” Helliker & Barrett note as the “unofficial kickoff of the footracing season in the U.S., the Boston Marathon attracts many race directors who will travel home faced with new security concerns.” Their issue is that “finish-line crowds represent a runner reward for finishing 26.2 miles.” Big Sur Int'l Marathon Dir Doug Thurston, whose race is on April 28, said, “What we face now is a balance between allowing people access to share in such an occasion and keeping people safe” (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 4/16). Lisa Rainsberger, who in '85 became the last American woman to win the Boston Marathon, said that the effect of the attack “will be felt for years.” Rainsberger: “How do the New York or Chicago marathons move forward without that fear? Every race has to be concerned. I know the race director and some of the board and I can’t imagine how horrible they are feeling right now.” In Colorado Springs, Joe Paisley notes race security is “especially tough because runners have bags of clothes waiting at the finish,” and spectators “often carry backpacks.” Rainsberger: “We need to be prudent but God forbid if everyone has to go through a metal detector. The cost may be too high for the smaller races” (Colorado Springs GAZETTE, 4/16).
ASSESSING THE RISK: In a special to the N.Y. DAILY NEWS, risk mitigation agency Kroll Boston Senior Managing Dir David Holley writes a marathon is “a very difficult event to protect.” Unlike an event at “a stadium or ballpark, ingress and egress cannot effectively be managed.” Marathon viewers “can enter and exit viewing vantage points from side streets, buildings and apartments all along the route.” And, because there are “no official entrances or exits, book bags, knapsacks and other carriers are not examined prior to gaining access to roadside viewing locations” (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 4/16). Runner’s World Contributing Editor Hal Higdon said, “One of the problems is the 26.2-mile course to secure, (that is) almost an unsecurable area. It is one of the risks of urban life in the world today.” He added, “It is a sporting event that anybody can walk up to. I don’t know what changes one would make” (CHICAGO SUN-TIMES, 4/16). Chicago Area Runners Association Exec Dir Wendy Jaehn, whose organization will put on Saturday's Lakefront 10 Miler, ran in yesterday's race. She said, "Any marathon will now review their security plans. (In Boston), you couldn't get access to where the runners were without clearance to do so. It was very secure for the runners, but no one envisioned anything happening on the spectator side of it" (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 4/16).
SECURITY ALWAYS A CONCERN: In Boston, Shira Springer writes the future will “bring tighter security in Boston and at marathons around the world, though security always has been a pressing concern for all marathon organizers.” In addition to “scores of police and public safety officials along the roads" typically at the Boston Marathon, bomb-sniffing dogs will "inspect parts of the route and the start area.” Additionally, well in advance of the race, "BAA officials, race director Dave McGillivray, and public safety officials meet to review security plans and emergency contingencies.” However, an event run on open roads like the marathon “presents challenges from many angles, as do all large-scale sporting events.” U.S. runner Meb Keflezighi competed in the marathon at the '04 Athens Games "when a crazed spectator attacked leader Vanderlei de Lima at the 35K mark.” Keflezighi said, “Ever since de Lima from Brazil got attacked, I’m fearful that when I’m running with my USA jersey some lunatic like that can do something stupid with a gun” (BOSTON GLOBE, 4/16).
TIGHTENED SECURITY IN PITTSBURGH: In Pittsburgh, Amy McConnell Schaarsmith notes organizers of the Dick's Sporting Goods Pittsburgh Marathon even before yesterday’s explosions had “planned tight security for the city's May 5 race.” But race Exec Dir Patrice Matamoros said that organizers and emergency officials after the attack “plan to take another look at their safety measures and potentially add security measures such as additional bomb sweeps.” The race is “expected to draw nearly 28,000 runners and between 30,000 and 50,000 spectators.” Pittsburgh Deputy Emergency Management Dir Ray Demichiei “declined to say exactly what changes might be made but said Pittsburgh's marathon security will be ‘the No. 1 issue on the agenda’ at this morning's regularly scheduled public safety chiefs' meeting.” Matamoros said that the race route is “checked for suspicious-looking objects on race week and in the early morning immediately before the race.” A team of bike riders during the race “looks again for anything suspicious or unusual along the route, which is also lined with numerous surveillance cameras.” She added that a “bomb squad with a bomb-sniffing dog inspects people at the start line.” Runners must “check any gear, and the area around the start and finish lines is fenced to exclude anyone without” an appropriately numbered race bib. Matamoros said that race organizers for the first time “also have ordered 12,000 linear feet of 6-foot chain link fencing to control crowds that gather at especially packed ‘choke points’” (PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE, 4/16). Also in Pittsburgh, Margaret Harding notes a bomb scare disrupted the ’10 Pittsburgh half marathon when a microwave was “found on the sidewalk ... blocks from the finish line.” Police “rerouted the race and called the bomb squad.” Matamoros: “Since then, we've been really trying to prepare extensively and put measures in place to protect and keep people safe” (PITTSBURGH TRIBUNE-REVIEW, 4/16).
As the Boston Athletic Association yesterday "shut down" the '13 Boston Marathon in the wake of bombings near the finish line around 2:50pm ET, runners were "diverted off the race course and onto Commonwealth Avenue, as police and ambulances rushed to the scene," according to Amalie Benjamin of the BOSTON GLOBE. Participants instead "continued straight, without any understanding of why they were not following the traditional course." Of the 23,326 runners who "started the Marathon, 17,584 finished before the race was stopped." There were 4,496 runners who "made it to the 40-kilometer mark -- where runners enter Boston -- but did not cross the finish line." The BAA announced at the Fairmont Copley hotel that a "secure area had been set up on Boston Common for families to meet." But that "never happened, with the police and BAA deciding not to bring masses of people into one location so close to the scene." Instead, runners were "diverted and dispersed, with the police urging people to leave the Back Bay." The BAA released information "in dribs and drabs, but it was announced that the awards ceremony and postrace party were cancelled." One issue for the BAA was the "hundreds of yellow bags full of runners’ belongings that were left behind on Berkeley Street, stranded due to the closing of the area." Usually that baggage is "laid out in the streets to be claimed by participants." But that "wasn’t allowed with everything that had gone on." The BAA, which cancelled today's postrace media conference, said that those bags can be picked up with "a bib number or proof of race participation" (BOSTON GLOBE, 4/16).
ON THE SCENE: USA Today Sports Media Group President Tom Beusse said that he "finished the race about three minutes before the blasts and estimated he was 150 yards away." Beusse: "It couldn't have been more than three or four minutes. I was mid-Boylston Street, and all of a sudden there was this giant explosion. All of us turned around, the runners, and had these looks on their faces like, 'Oh my god.' We all knew it was something bad." Beusse said that the race "ended immediately." He added, "They immediately turned the bomb site into a crime scene. Anybody that hadn't gotten to the finish line was immediately rerouted" (USATODAY.com, 4/15).
WITH BIG EVENTS COME BIG RISKS: In Boston, Gerry Callahan writes there was "no big sporting event that seemed less dangerous" than the Boston Marathon. There is "always that ominous pall leading up to the Super Bowl ... same goes for the World Series or a big college bowl game or even the Indy 500." Callahan: "But the Marathon? Our Marathon? It has a decidedly international flavor these days, but somehow it still felt insulated and innocent, like a big block party to celebrate the start of spring" (BOSTON HERALD, 4/16). In Philadelphia, Phil Sheridan writes the Boston Marathon is an "insidiously perfect target for the kind of twisted mind that wants to create maximum shock value." What makes the event "so special is what makes it so vulnerable" (PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER, 4/16).
La Liga club Real Madrid, Serie A club Juventus and MLS Galaxy are “three of the eight teams that will take part in the U.S. this summer in the first edition of an annual knockout tournament,” according to Grant Wahl of SI.com. The new tournament, which “is being called the International Champions Cup, will take place all around the U.S., with the final” at Sun Life Stadium. There will be “two groups of four -- Eastern and Western groups.” The ICC marks “the first big splash into soccer” by Dolphins Owner Stephen Ross and his RSE Ventures firm. After several years of “one-off summer exhibitions, it will be a change of pace to see top teams in a tournament in which the winner takes home a trophy” (SI.com, 4/15). In Miami, Michelle Kaufman notes the event is "the culmination of a summer preseason tournament that will be televised on Fox and in more than 150 countries.” The “12-day bracketed ‘International Champions Cup’" opens in Europe on July 27 and "then will move to the United States for seven days of competition on both coasts.” First-round matches are “in the works" for Phoenix, S.F. and Indianapolis. The semifinals “would be in New York and Los Angeles on Aug. 3 and 4.” All eight teams “travel to Miami to compete in the seventh-place, fifth-place, third-place and championship matches.” At least four of the teams and the title sponsor “will be released Thursday.” The event reportedly “will include top teams from Spain, Italy, England and Turkey.” The winning team is “expected to take home a $1 million prize.” Relevant Sports CEO Charlie Stillitano said, “What’s extraordinary about this event for Miami is that all eight teams will be playing at Sun Life Stadium over a two-day span.” The teams are “signing three-year contracts with the tournament.” It "has not been decided if Sun Life Stadium will continue to host the championship and consolation rounds, or if that will rotate” (MIAMI HERALD, 4/16).
SOCCER MECCA ON THE RISE? In this week’s SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL, Lefton & Ourand report Ross’ “dream of transforming Sun Life Stadium into a center for soccer in the United States could get a big boost” hosting the tournament this summer. While “nothing has been signed, initial plans have Fox Soccer Channel carrying the tournament this year, with Fox Sports 1 carrying it in 2014 and 2015.” A source said that a “marquee team like Manchester United could command as much as $2 million.” Smaller “upper-division clubs would cost around $500,000.” N.Y. marketing firm Insignia, a supporting company for RSE Ventures, is “handling branding and sales.” Organizers have “shopped the tournament around to other media outlets.” Sources said that ESPN, which “previously carried the World Football Challenge … passed on it” (SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL, 4/15 issue).
With less than three months before the start of the America's Cup races in S.F., locals are “lining up lawyers, insisting on written contracts about concert hours and signing petitions to shame" Oracle Founder & CEO Larry Ellison "into covering the city's bills,” according to Julia Prodis Sulek of the SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS. The backlash is “sending America's Cup organizers scrambling to explain themselves at community meetings and forcing them to make concessions while in the final planning stages for the international sporting event.” Promoters first “promised more than a dozen international boats would come to the Bay Area to face Ellison's Oracle Racing (only three are coming), that the city would reap more than $1 billion in economic rewards (that has been downgraded to less than $1 billion) and that a group of San Francisco's ‘who's who’ would raise $32 million in private money to help defer the city's costs (less than half that has been raised).” Still, event organizers said that there is “nothing to be ashamed about.” The Cup has “already been a catalyst for the city to make long-awaited improvements to the waterfront, including upgrading dilapidated piers into parks and open space and building a new cruise ship terminal.” Organizers said that while the city's general fund “may not profit from the event, the impact will be a wash with the combination of private donations and new tax revenues.” Downscaling the event “means the city's expenses for things like police overtime, extra Muni buses and other costs will drop, too, to about $23 million.” But fundraising to cover those costs “has been sluggish,” as only $6M “in private donations has been raised, even with an impressive list of committee members” (SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS, 4/15).