Budweiser Gardens: Spectators advised to arrive early after scanners installed

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Next time you walk into Budweiser Gardens, prepare to meet Garrett (PD 6500i).

That’s the brand name of the NHL-standard walk-through metal detectors recently installed at every spectator entrance at the downtown London arena.

“There’s a lot of stuff going on in the world,” rink GM Brian Ohl, also the regional-vice president for Global Spectrum Facility Management, said, “and it’s been an inquiry by people coming into the building about what we do on a security basis. I know it’s been on people’s minds.”

The building’s main tenant, the London Knights, has notified its season-ticket holders — and are putting the word out to its fans in general — to “arrive early (before a game) to allow time for the new enhanced security measures.”

Fans who normally breeze into the 9,000-seat arena right at puck drop are likely to encounter delays due to the new scanning procedure.

“If you think about going to the airport or a Maple Leafs game (at Air Canada Centre), there is a bit of a line and a process,” Ohl said. “We’ll work very hard to keep that to a minimum but especially as patrons and our staff get used to the new system, I would recommend people getting there as early as they can.”

The Bud is distributing placards to help avoid clogging up the entrances.

It advises that “knives and weapons” are strictly prohibited and keys, cameras, phones and sunglasses must be removed before scanning.

You can keep your belts, cash, wallets, watches, shoes and jackets on your person.

Knights co-owner and coach Dale Hunter approves of the added security and is encouraged that headaches will be few and far between.

“The staff at Budweiser Gardens will make sure that the security measures put in place will have a smooth transition into all events at the arena, including London Knights games,” he indicated in a message to the team’s fans.

London is not alone. Many non-NHL and medium-sized facilities, especially south of the border, are adding metal detector security.

The Erie Insurance Arena, home of the reigning OHL champion Otters, have also installed them for the upcoming season.“We’re encouraged by this,” OHL vice-president Ted Baker said. “and each of our teams are working with our facilities to ensure that spectator safety is paramount.”

Ohl said he cannot recall an incident in the Bud’s 15-year history where someone tried to enter with a weapon.

“Nothing unusual, we’ve been very lucky,” he said. “But we felt (enhanced security) was the right thing to do to ensure safety for the patrons in London.”

There has already been a pre-Knights test run of “Garrett”. It was operational for a WWE wrestling show earlier this month.

Whether Budweiser is the lone Ontario venue in the OHL with scanners or installing the security equipment this season was unclear Tuesday.

New ohl measures

In an effort to “enhance its player environment in health, safety, education and communication”, the Ontario Hockey League announced three partnerships approved at the recent board of governors meeting.

All 20 clubs will implement a Privit profile for the 2017-18 season, helping staff distribute, manage and analyze health and data for each player and respond quickly and correctly to medical issues. Privit is a combany with London roots.

The league also will also leverage Athlex mobile technology to improve communication with players, coaches, staff, billet families and parents directly on their members’ mobile devices. It has also introduced a new school tool called GradeSlam, which gives students all-hours access to a private tutor through a chat-based service.

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