Security Efforts Ramp Up For Baseball Season

Take me out to the ballgame but leave weapons at home. 

With the start of the Major League Baseball season, major, minor and independent leagues are preparing for their seasons with an eye toward stadium security and an optimized fan experience with the installation of advanced weapons detection security systems. 

Recently, security tech company Xtract One Technologies partnered with the American Association of Professional Baseball, an independent league with 12 teams scheduled to start its season on May 9, as their preferred technology provider across AAPB’s entertainment centers throughout Canada and the Midwest. 

“We live in a very uncertain world these days, and unfortunately, that’s not going to change; it’s probably going to get a little worse,” said Peter Evans, CEO of Xtract One Technologies. “And we see evidence from the Kansas City Chiefs Super Bowl parade, weapons issues are not going away.” 

After 9/11, major league stadiums and arenas for NFL, NBA and MLB started safety protocols, but those practices took more time to reach other leagues, which used bag searches and wands rather than a full-blown security approach, according to Evans. 

“But more and more folks are looking for weapons detection solutions to make sure their environments are safe. To make sure you don’t have more incidents like you did with the Kansas City Chiefs. For all sorts of reasons; it’s not good for the brand, it’s not good for the experience,” offered Evans. He’s referring to the Super Bowl victory parade in Kansas City in which three Missouri men have been charged in a mass shooting that left one person dead and two dozen others injured.

As baseball season begins, the need to prioritize player and patron safety and enjoyment at stadiums has never been more critical. Xtract One’s SmartGateway technology offers touchless security and AI-driven sensors that ensure safety while improving entry efficiency. 

“It’s gone from a nice to have to a must have,” Evans said. “The fans expect security and safety.”

 Xtract One’s Gateway product enables businesses to covertly screen for weapons at points of entry without disrupting the flow of traffic. Its AI-based software allows venue and building operators to find weapons and other threats before they enter the venue. The technology was tested by the TSA and listed on the TSA security screening product catalog.  

Utilizing security solutions that surpass traditional, decades-old metal detector technology, AI-driven weapons detection systems offer a proactive security approach to address the growing number of threats at sporting events. 

“The technology doesn’t discriminate,” Evans said. “The technology is looking at the items – this is a cell phone, this is a knife, this is a gun – for argument’s sake. It’s not looking at the individual. Is this person old or young, male or female, or anything like that. It’s not making decisions based on who the person is. It’s making decisions based on the characteristics of the product they happen to be carrying on them. It’s completely objective and completely non-invasive.”

The system reduces long lines, wait times and eliminates the need to empty pockets or look inside bags. Prior to installing the system at Radio City Music Hall in September 2023, Evans said 30 percent of ticket holders weren’t in their seats before the curtain because of security delays. After the system was installed on two of three entrances, only 8 percent of patrons missed the opening. More time in the venue also meant increased concession sales of $5 to $6 per person, according to Evans. 

Xtract One’s advanced security system not only ensures safety and convenience, but also prioritizes privacy. The touchless, non-invasive technology is designed to protect patrons without invading their personal space.

“In many cases, people walk through it and they don’t even realize it,” said Evans, who prior to Xtract One served as a senior executive at several technology and security companies, including IBM. 

Xtract One, which is based in Toronto, Canada, provides enhanced security systems for business and venues across the country including Acrisure Arena in Palm Desert, California; Climate Pledge Arena in Seattle, Washington; Moody Center in Austin and American Bank Center in Corpus Christi, Texas; Total Mortgage Arena in Bridgeport, Connecticut; Madison Square Garden along with Radio City Music Hall in New York; and The Sphere in Las Vegas. Since The Sphere opened in September, two dozen knives and other prohibited items have been confiscated at every concert, according to Evans.

Patron safety and venue security are increasingly important.

“In the sports environment, you’ve got a lot of excitement and a lot of enthusiasm,” Evans observed. “Oftentimes you see tempers flare. Post COVID one of the most notable things that we’ve seen with sports venues is the amount of fan violence. Fist fights in the stands have increased rapidly. And so, you put people in confined environments where there is a lot of money involved there’s a lot of passion already, and a lot of alcohol, It’s potential risk. So, keeping weapons out of those environments is very, very critical.”