Case Studies of Sports Leagues Security Priorities

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National Sports Leagues Security Priorities

Access control, incident management, video surveillance, and spectator violence are some examples of security priorities for major national sports organizations such as the Miami Dolphins' Hard Rock Stadium and the Hungarian Ferencvaros' Groupama Arena.

Hard Rock Stadium Security

  • Security priorities for South Florida's Hard Rock Stadium, which is home to the NFL's Miami Dolphins and the University of Miami Hurricanes football team, are access control, identity and incident management, and video surveillance.
  • Multiple vendors, construction projects, and fan behavior constitute a persistent challenge to stadiums across the U.S.
  • The stadium decided to install a high-tech solution to the challenges of ensuring access to sensitive areas was limited to authorized personnel, tracking security issues to their origin, and allowing security personnel to "maintain a watchful eye inside and outside the stadium."
  • While renovating the stadium in 2015, the owners established a central security command center where highly-trained security personnel could more efficiently monitor the interior and exterior of the stadium, the perimeter, and the parking lots.
  • Over 400 cameras were installed around the stadium to record incidents and a case management software platform was installed to collect comprehensive data from checkpoints throughout the stadium, including entry points and exits.
  • The software automated the reporting and alert process, allowing security to respond proactively to incidents.
  • Security personnel was trained in best practices and response procedures to provide "concierge, gate, roving patrol and Security Operations Center services."

Hungarian Groupama Arena

  • A security priority for the Groupama Arena in Hungary, where the professional football team Ferencvaros plays, was spectator violence.
  • The Hungarian security company BioSec teamed up with technology giant Fujitsu to develop StadiumGuard, a biometric palm vein recognition device that is designed to ensure banned individuals from entering the stadium.
  • The StadiumGuard device is "palm vein scanner solution that grants access to thousands of ticket holders into the stadium, while keeping banned individuals outside."
  • Spectators who have been added to the system as a previous security risk are blacklisted from re-entering the stadium.
  • When fans entering the stadium for an event wave their hand above a sensor at one of the stadium's 36 entry points, a green light will show if the person is allowed into the stadium. Blacklisted individuals will not trigger a green light.
  • Since installing StadiumGuard in 2014, there have been "zero acts of violence, zero pyrotechnics, and zero racist abuse" at the stadium, which has a capacity of 23,500 patrons.
  • An additional program that may be instituted at the stadium in the future is RapidGuard, which uses palm vein recognition to "ensure 100% personalized tickets for high security authentication and access control."
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International Sports Leagues Security Priorities

Drones and prohibited fan behavior are two security priorities for major international sports organizations such as the Olympics and the National Basketball Association.

Drones at the Olympics

  • A major security priority for the Tokyo Olympic Games to be held in the summer of 2020 is malicious drones.
  • The Japan Times reported that Japan is bracing for "sophisticated cyberattacks" that could come in the form of drones that are controlled from smart devices.
  • Previous Olympic organizers have faced "enormous numbers of cyberattacks, with 500 million estimated during the 2016 Rio Games and 250 million during the 2012 London Games," and Tokyo Olympics organizers expect to see similar numbers.
  • With regard to the specific threat of malicious drones, the challenge is to identify those that pose a threat to the events from those that are classified as friendly.
  • Aeronautical engineering companies are testing drones "fitted with location transmitters that were classified as friendly devices, while those that did not provide such data were regarded as suspicious."
  • Drone experts will use the information to make immediate assessments to address drones that could potentially cause a "whole range of malicious acts" such as "jamming mobile signals, [and] causing a huge panic."
  • Additionally, the Japanese government recently passed a bill that would severely restrict drone-flying activity over "venues hosting 2020 Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic events as a preventive measure against terrorism."

Player Safety and the National Basketball Association

  • A unique security challenge facing the National Basketball Association (NBA) is the close proximity of fans to the players on the court.
  • The athletes agree as in an anonymous poll from The Atlantic, 13.7% said that fan behavior is the most pressing issue facing the NBA.
  • NBA players are often some of the most well-known athletes in the world, but they are also "the most publicly exposed athletes, and they have to deal with the challenges and responsibilities that come with that notoriety."
  • African American players in particular have been the subject of racial abuse from fans, mostly in the form of verbal slurs, but in some cases, the incidents have turned physical.
  • Prior to the 2017-18 season, the NBA enacted the "Enhanced Fan Code of Conduct," which is overseen by the league's chief security officer.
  • The Enhanced Fan Code of Conduct reminds fans, particularly those sitting near the court, that profanity, racist comments, anti-gay comments, and threats of violence are all prohibited behaviors.
  • Security efforts are coordinated among "individual teams, league representatives, and arena staff" based on the standards set at the league level.
  • If prohibited behavior is detected, security personnel remove the fan, allowing the game to proceed. Then, the case is investigated by interviewing witnesses and reviewing video and audio evidence.
  • Based on the evidence, the fan may be returned to their seat with a warning, ejected from the arena, or permanently banned from the arena.
  • All incidents are "reported to and investigated by the league office."
  • The league also ended alcohol sales after the third quarter following a brawl between fans and players in Michigan in 2004.

Research Strategy

The National Basketball Association was considered international for the purposes of this request because it has a team in Canada and plays against international basketball teams in the NBA's summer league. The league also considers itself "a global sports and media business built around four professional sports leagues: the National Basketball Association, the Women’s National Basketball Association, the NBA G League and the NBA 2K League."
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International Sports Leagues Budget

The National Basketball Association budgets more than half of its budget to player salaries while the biggest expense for the U.S. Soccer Federation is for the men's and women's National Team events. Additional details of these national and international sports organizations follow.

National Basketball Association (NBA)

  • The National Basketball Association has two basic budget structures: one for small market teams and one for large market teams. They are broken down as follows
  • Small Market Teams
    • Approximately 58% of a small market team's budget is earmarked for player salaries. The player payroll minimum was $91.682 million in 2018 and any team "spending less must distribute the difference pro rata among the players on the roster on the last day of the season." The salary cap for 2018-19 is $101.869 million, meaning teams cannot spend over that amount on player salaries.
    • The second-largest expense for small market teams is business operating expenses at 16%. This category includes executive salaries, rent, insurance, and debt.
    • Team non-staff costs represent 15% of a small market team's budget. This category includes between $3.3 million and $3.5 million for charter aviation costs, excluding catering. Other costs include insurance, a practice facility, hotels, food, and beverages.
    • Team staff costs represent 10% of a small market team's budget. This category includes "salaries of coaches, basketball operations staff, [and] medical staff." Some teams include G League (the NBA's minor league) costs in this category, but others do not.
    • Just 1% of a small market team's budget is allocated to de minimis expenses.
  • Large Market Teams
    • Large market teams spend about 52% of their budget on player salaries and they have the same payroll minimum as small market teams ($91.682 million in 2018) and the same salary cap ($101.869 million in 2018).
    • Like small market teams, business operating expenses (executive salaries, rent, insurance, debt) are the second-largest expense for large market teams at 18%.
    • Team non-staff costs represent 12% of a large market team's budget, which includes charter aviation costs, insurance, a practice facility, hotels, food, and beverages. NBA players received a per diem amount of $127 while on the road in 2017-18.
    • The luxury tax for many large market teams represents about 6% of their budget and has a threshold of $123.733 million and the rate goes up for each $5 million above the threshold.
    • Team staff costs are much lower in large market teams, representing just 5% of a team's budget. This category includes "salaries of coaches, basketball operations staff, [and] medical staff." Some teams include G League (the NBA's minor league) costs in this category, but others do not.
    • Revenue sharing represents 5% of a large market team's budget, but this varies widely based on local media deals. For instance, a media deal between the Los Angeles Lakers and Time Warner Cable (Charter) averages $200 million per year for 20 years. Other teams earn less than $40 million in local media partnerships.
    • It is important to note that revenue sharing is not available for teams that have a "designated market area of 2.5 million TV households or more."
    • Like small market teams, large market teams budget just 1% for de minimis expenses.

U.S. Soccer Federation

  • The U.S. Soccer Federation earns revenues from the following items:
    • The U.S. Soccer Federation earns $46.8 million in broadcast and sponsorship revenue, which includes the "joint U.S. Soccer-Major League Soccer television deal with ESPN, Fox and Univision, as well as revenue from commercial sponsors."
    • The league earns $27.9 million from events, which includes ticket revenue from both men's and women's matches and merchandise sales.
    • About $6.0 million is earned from player and membership registrations, which include "Youth, Adult and Professional membership fees."
    • Referee-related revenue, which includes annual referee registration, contributes $3.0 million to the league.
    • Educational and coaching programs bring in $2.1 million.
    • Fund-raising and development activities earn the league $1.2 million.
    • International games played in the United States are worth $5.3 million in revenue for the U.S. Soccer league.
    • In 2016-17, U.S. Soccer also received $15.0 million from the Copa América Centenario, a tournament that was played in the U.S. and brought international players from all over North and South America.
  • The U.S. Soccer Federation has the following expenses:
    • General and administrative costs for U.S. Soccer amount to $12.5 million. This category includes personnel costs, IT project investments, website expenses, and legal activity.
    • About $1.0 million goes to the Federation's annual general meeting, board of directors, and committee expenses. Included in this million is meeting space rent and hotel rooms.
    • Marketing and sponsorships account for $4.8 million in expenses. This category includes content creation, video operations, and retail commercial matters.
    • Coaching-related expenses, including an online educational program, a Pilot Pro Level license program, and the salary for full-time professional coach educators, represent $4.0 million.
    • Referee-related expenses, including referee ID, training, education and development, content development, online learning modules, and assessment, represent $3.1 million.
    • Player development spending totals $20.2 million and includes "spending on men's, women's, boys' and girls' youth national teams." The Development Academy and the National Team Training Program both fall under this umbrella.
    • Programming expenses are budgeted $7.0 million and include the "Youth Technical Development, Technical Advisors and Scouting departments."
    • Senior National Team expenses amount to $38.2 million and include all expenses related to both men's and women's National Team events.