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Bucs fans may get pat-downs at games

The football team wants more security, so the sports authority is figuring out how to ensure safety.

By TAMARA LUSH, Times Staff Writer

© St. Petersburg Times, published August 3, 2002

The football team wants more security, so the sports authority is figuring out how to ensure safety.

TAMPA -- The Tampa Sports Authority is again considering whether to pat down the thousands of Buccaneer fans who stream into the stadium for home games.

The proposal comes from the football team, which wants greater security in the stadium.

"It's definitely something we want to do as an organization," said Bucs communication manager Jeff Kamis. "Everyone entering the stadium, including players, would be subject to this."

"Of course, we would pay for the cost," Kamis said.

It was unclear whether the team would hire a security firm, off-duty police or others to conduct the pat-downs.

"In light of Sept. 11 and the events around the world," he said, "we want to continue to do everything to ensure the safety of all our fans."

Last December, the sports authority rejected a similar proposal by the Bucs to use wands to screen fans. At the time, Tampa police Maj. K.C. Newcomb -- a security consultant to the sports authority board -- said such detailed searches would be a "logistical nightmare." He also said the wands would be useless against plastic explosives or biological agents carried in glass.

Patrick Manteiga, publisher of the local newspaper La Gaceta and a member of the sports authority board, said he opposes pat-downs.

"I don't see why we should pat down the taxpayers that paid for this stadium," he said.

Another board member, Sue House, said she was intrigued.

"I believe in the best security that we can have," she said.

At least seven of the National Football League's 31 teams already use pat-downs -- the Dallas Cowboys, New England Patriots, San Diego Chargers, Philadelphia Eagles, Buffalo Bills, New York Giants and the New York Jets. The Kansas City Chiefs use wand searches.

The spokeswoman for the sports authority, which runs the stadium, said a decision will be made at Monday's board meeting.

"It hasn't even been voted on yet," said Barbara Casey. "It hasn't even been brought up by the board."

-- Staff writer Rick Stroud contributed to this report.

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