Arlington

Texas Rangers’ home opener will feature new security measures

Security experts with the Texas Rangers, Michael Smith, left, and Blake Miller, demonstrate the new metal detectors that the team will deploy at all gates as part of the new security initiatives this season at Globe Life Park in Arlington.
Security experts with the Texas Rangers, Michael Smith, left, and Blake Miller, demonstrate the new metal detectors that the team will deploy at all gates as part of the new security initiatives this season at Globe Life Park in Arlington. Star-Telegram

Baseball fans streaming into Globe Life Park in Arlington will be greeted with an extra security step before going to their seats.

Walk-through metal detectors are being added this season.

The Texas Rangers are asking fans to arrive early for Friday’s home opener against the Houston Astros so they’ll have plenty of time to pass through the new layer of security. The gates open at noon for the 3:05 p.m. game.

“The walk-throughs are the quickest and less invasive for the fans,” said Blake Miller, the Rangers’ security vice president. “They are the same metal detectors used in airports and banks and anywhere else. The difference here is we’ve set it in such a way that it will only set off for a large metal object, similar to an iPhone or a gun. Fans keep their belt on, keep their shoes on and leave everything in their pocket.”

After the 2013 Boston Marathon bombings, Major League Baseball mandated security upgrades at all 30 ballparks.

The Rangers, who have searched bags and randomly screened guests with hand-held metal detectors for years, brought in 10 walk-through detectors last season. Those rotated among gates to provide training for the security staff and to introduce fans to the process, officials said.

“We used them at different gates just to allow the fans to have a second to familiarize themselves with the process. Now they are a step ahead for this year,” Miller said.

37 walk-through detectors

The team spent nearly $500,000 to buy 37 walk-through metal detectors, said Rob Matwick, the Rangers’ executive vice president of business operations. The detectors have lights along each side that flash red to show security officers where people have metal concealed on their bodies, such as guns strapped to their legs or hidden in their pockets.

Most keys, belt buckles and small metal objects will not set off the detectors, although cellphones will, Miller said. To speed the screening process, guests will be asked to hold their cellphones over their heads as they pass through the detectors.

“On the lighting system, it will show that it’s only that one area [above their heads], so we know the guest coming in doesn’t have any more large metal objects on them and they go straight into the ballpark,” Miller said. “We don’t want to slow the guests down, but we want the guest to feel like there is another layer of security that will make them feel better when they are here with their families.”

Get to the park early

The security measures are less strict than those at nearby AT&T Stadium, where fans at Dallas Cowboys games must put items in see-through plastic bags. The NFL prohibits purses, backpacks, coolers, seat cushions, briefcases or other opaque bags.

The Rangers’ policies are more in line with what’s in place at the American Airlines Center for Dallas Mavericks games and other events. Bags are searched and bodies are scanned with hand-held security wands.

Matwick said fans bringing bags to Globe Life Park should expect a search.

Rangers officials say the new measures shouldn’t cause significant delays as fans enter the 49,115-seat ballpark. Total home attendance last year was 2.3 million.

Still, fans are encouraged to arrive well before Friday’s 3:05 p.m. game.

“We didn’t see that last year,” Matwick said about long lines at security. “That is one of the things we were concerned about. The volume of people on Opening Day is capacity-plus. So we know we’ve got [37 metal detectors] and 48,000 people who have to get through them.

“If they all wait until 2 p.m., it’s going to slow down. That’s why we would like to see if we can get as many people in early as we can.”

Susan Schrock, 817-390-7639

Twitter: @susanschrock

The home opener

The Rangers’ home opener is at 3:05 p.m. Friday at Globe Life Park in Arlington.

The parking lots open at 9 a.m., and the gates open at noon.

The ceremonial first pitch will be thrown by retired Air Force Staff Sgt. Nicholas Bradley, who was wounded in Afghanistan in 2008 and is now studying political science at the University of North Texas.

A special “Texas Toss” will be made by Gov. Greg Abbott.

The national anthem will be performed by the Air Force Band of the West from Lackland Air Force Base.

A flyover will feature F-16s from the Air Force’s 301st Fighter Wing, based at Naval Air Station Fort Worth.

Noteworthy

Security

▪ Fans must walk through metal detectors, which will scan for large metal objects such as guns and knives.

▪ Unlike at airports, fans will not have to empty their pockets or take off their shoes or belts, but they will be asked to hold their cellphones over their heads as they walk through the detectors.

▪ Soft-sided collapsible coolers are still allowed, but no metal cans, glass containers or alcohol may be taken inside. All bags are subject to searches.

Weather alerts

▪ Fans can text “RANGERSWEATHER” to 76432 to receive weather and game information, such as a delayed start because of rain. Message and data rates may apply.

▪ The Rangers also post weather updates on their Twitter account, @Rangers.

Directions, parking

▪ Follow @RangersInfo on Twitter for parking and traffic updates or visit texasrangers.com/directions for maps and routes to parking lots. Or call 972-PARKING.

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