TSO Security a Sign of the Times

terry charles | behind the stage | january 2017

Everyone who attended the Trans-Siberian Orchestra concerts on December 9 at the Resch Center got a taste of security measures that are likely to be the norm at some point in the future. We had two sold-out concerts that day – one at 4 p.m. and one at 8 p.m. Everyone who came through the doors with any type of bag or purse had to have that bag checked. Concertgoers were also checked with a handheld electronic wand designed to detect metal objects like knives or guns.

In order to make the process as efficient as possible, we decided to put the security checkpoints outside. We knew there would be lines because you can only check so many people at a time. We put up as many checkpoints as we had exterior doors. The lobby would have become too congested had we tried to do that many checkpoints inside.

We did our best to let TSO fans know in advance about the security measures. The best message in these cases is to travel as lightly as possible or bring no bags at all! We sent emails to all ticket buyers who purchased online through Ticket Star and we posted the message on our social media channels. Coming early wouldn't necessarily change things because the concerts were sold out and a lot of people needed to be processed. But anyone we could reach to tell them not to bring bags would help.

There are certain promoters who are requiring this type of security for every concert they do at every venue. Others are a bit more relaxed at this point, but the trend is becoming clear — get ready for more security at shows in all venues. You only have to look across the street at Lambeau Field where the Packers use walk-through metal detectors like you see at the airport. These are especially effective at detecting pocket knives, which they get a lot of, and of course, would detect a gun should anyone try to get one in.

In October the University of Wisconsin, which owns and operates the Kohl Center, announced it had acquired approximately 25 standing metal detectors for all public, student and staff entrances. In conjunction with that, the university announced gates would open 90 minutes prior to all of its events at the Kohl Center. The industry standard has been 60 minutes before a show. Most shows at the Resch are still 60 minutes for doors, but we are seeing more that are going to 90 minutes whenever there is a large crowd or added security measures.

Will metal detectors be coming to the Resch Center? I would say it's likely at some point. Of course, funding will be a major issue because these machines are not cheap. I'm guessing the state had a budget for the Kohl Center or perhaps they got a grant because it is a state-owned building. In contrast, the Resch Center is a county-owned building run by a private company — PMI Entertainment Group.

The moral of the story is be prepared for additional security when you go to larger venues like arenas and stadiums. Pack as lightly as possible and carry in as little as possible. It will speed up the process for everyone. Be watching for e-mails from the venue or the show regarding things you need to know before you go. Go to the venue websites before you leave for any information they might have. The old saying holds true — better to be safe than sorry.

Terry Charles is public relations manager for Green Bay-based PMI Entertainment Group. He's all about media relations, publicity and social media for the Resch Center Complex, Meyer Theatre, Green Bay Gamblers Hockey and other events produced by PMI. When not at work, please don't hit him with your car as he runs and bikes around the Green Bay area. You can follow him on Twitter at @TCCharles.

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