The deadly twin bombings at the Boston Marathon finish line — while shocking to the public — were a worst-case scenario long feared by organizers of major sporting events.
But the metal detectors and pat-downs put in place by stadium security after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks only work in a controlled environment.
There is a huge logistical difference between a ticketed event like a concert or football game and an open race that draws thousands of spectators along a 26.2-mile course.
That’s why the Miami Police Department is taking a fresh look at security in place for the April 25 Mercedes-Benz Corporate Run through downtown Miami, which will go on — despite this week’s events.
Race director Hans Huseby met with fire and police officials Tuesday in light of the Boston Marathon bombings. More than 25,000 participants are expected, which would be the biggest race in its history.
“Though details were not released, the event will have added security to ensure the safety of the participants,” Huseby said in the statement. “The tragedy in Boston is still fresh on our minds and those affected are in our hearts.”
Miami Police on Tuesday declined to talk about any beefed up measures. However, Miami Police Chief Manuel Orosa will field questions about race security Thursday during an unrelated press conference the department is holding on video gaming machines, a department spokesman said.
Huseby said race officials will provide updates “as we get closer to the event.”
The come-and-go nature of road races allowed someone to drop two bags holding pressure cookers packed with nails, ball bearings and other metal onto the ground at the end of the Boston Marathon route.
Three people had died from the near-simultaneous explosions as of Tuesday evening, with more than 180 others injured.
Organizers of the ING Miami Marathon and Half Marathon, held the last Sunday in January, met Tuesday morning to discuss ramifications of the tragedy in Boston on their safety measures.
“We have to be mindful, yet we don’t want to fence people out, fence runners in, and make it miserable for everybody,” said Frankie Ruiz, chief running officer for the 11-year-old event that attracts 25,000 participants. “What happened at the Boston Marathon could happen at a picnic.”
Ruiz said security enhancements may center on runners’ pre-race gear bags.
“We talked about what participants are allowed to carry,” he said. “Fortunately, for the race, you don’t need much — maybe a water belt, a hat. We may decide to cordon off the cheer zones a little bit more and provide more security in the finish area and bleachers.”
The tragedy’s ripple effects weren’t just felt throughout the running world.
At Marlins Park in Little Havana, Major League Baseball games went on as scheduled both the day of the attack, and the day after.
“We are taking additional precautions and have intensified our security efforts in and around the ballpark to ensure everyone’s safety,” said club spokesman P.J. Loyello.
The attack hit particularly close to home for Dolphins CEO Mike Dee. Before coming to Miami, he was a high-level executive with the Red Sox, and his kids used to hand out water along the marathon route.
Sun Life Stadium won’t host a major event until an international soccer friendly June 8, but Dee said he doesn’t expect any major changes in the way of security protocol between now and then.
The reason: Everyone who walks through the gate at Dolphins games is already wand down and screened. The league mandates certain security measures, Dee said, and since the Dolphins’ staff also runs the stadium for non-NFL events, those precautions remain in place.
“We continuously work with the NFL and our security team to undertake additional measures to provide a safe environment,” said Dee, who added the Boston bombing is “an unspeakable tragedy.”
Likewise, the Florida Panthers already have a pretty stringent security policy, one in which all visitors — including working media — are wand and have their bags checked.
Team president Michael Yormark said in a statement on Tuesday that the BB&T Center was working with the Sunrise police department to “implement enhanced security measures.”