WASHINGTON, D.C. – First it was airports. Now football arenas are offering speedier security lines.
Fans who attend NFL games at four stadiums this season will be able to go through a separate, faster security checkpoint reserved for those who pay a fee of $100 to $128 a year.
The security pat downs required by the NFL at all stadium entrances will not change, but the lines that can take up to an hour to get through will be substantially shorter for those using the new security option, team officials say.
The Washington Redskins, San Francisco 49ers, Denver Broncos, and Atlanta Falcons all plan to offer special entrance gates for fans who buy an access card. The cards also let people into reserved security lanes at some airport checkpoints. The Baltimore Ravens and Oakland Raiders will offer the program in the 2009 season.
"The lines will be much quicker," Ravens Vice President Kevin Rochlitz said. Fans with the special card will wait only about 10 minutes to get into 71,000-seat M&T Bank Stadium, compared with an hour-long wait for other fans entering just before kickoff, Rochlitz said.
Fee-based reserved security lanes could expand to more football teams and to other entertainment venues, office buildings, and bus or train stations. "This has applicability in many, many settings," said Luke Thomas, executive vice president of Virginia-based FLO Corp., which is selling the $100 Redskins, Ravens, and Raiders access cards.
The program began three years ago in U.S. airports to get passengers through security checkpoints quickly. Nineteen airports including three in the San Francisco area and two near Washington, D.C., offer the exclusive lanes through the Registered Traveler program. The football cards can be used at any of the 19 airports.
"What you do at an airport is not drastically different from what you do at a stadium," Thomas said, referring to searches. "Instead of flying somewhere, you're watching a game."
Redskins spokesman Karl Swanson said if a lot of fans sign up for the cards, the team will add more special lanes at 92,000-seat FedEx Field.
Steven Brill, CEO of Verified Identity Pass of Manhattan, said it made sense to start special security lanes at football games, which attract about 80,000 people and have the longest entrance lines. Verified is selling its $128 cards for 49ers, Broncos, and Falcons games.
Source: USA Today