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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Zona Zoo officials mull security strategies

    The Zona Zoo student section, one of the largest in the Pacific 10 Conference football, has had it’s downfalls in past years, often failing to control crowds of more than 10,000 Wildcat fans.

    But officials have discussed whether the current first-come, first-serve entrance allowance gives too much uncertainty to fans upon entry. When the student sections fills to capacity, gates close and disgruntled fans become uncooperative.

    “”We’re still trying to develop what our entrance policy is going to be like and if any changes are going to be made,”” said Zona Zoo executive director Raul Ponce. “”We had a few problems with the big games last year, with big crowds even trying to rush into the game.””

    Ideas have been thrown back and forth between game organizers, said Susan Mason the associate director of athletics and event management leader. Those include possible entry requirements.

    Some of the requirements discussed include students wearing their Zona Zoo T-shirts that come with the student ticket packages or wrist bands in order to get into Arizona Stadium.

    Those changes would prevent massive crowds being locked outside the gates and believing they have the right to still get in.

    If a change in the student’s behavior does not happen soon, the Zona Zoo may begin to limit the number of passes sold, keeping the maximum allowance of the student section at a given number, Mason said.

    To avoid the restraints of limited passes, crowd cooperation is necessary.

    “”Arrive early and understand that a pass you’re buying is a first-come, first-serve pass,”” Mason said.

    Security services close the gates when the lower east section reaches its 10,000 capacity. And that’s when students get rowdy. Both Mason and Ponce said that arriving 45 minutes to an hour early will ensure that students will get seats.

    In addition, security also hopes to make the Zona Zoo passes worth their full value by keeping non-pass holders out of the student section. Often, that includes recent graduates or friends visiting from out of town, Mason said.

    The biggest challenge, she added, is controlling alcohol consumption and minors in possession. The stadium has a open container policy and at each game, a number of students are escorted out of the game after being caught with alcohol.

    But preventing alcohol from entering the stadium comes with a price. All items in a fan’s possession are subject to search and sometimes lines form because of it.

    “”The message is (bring) your wallet in your pocket and that’s enough,”” Mason said. “”No large bags, no backpacks, no bags is ideal.””

    If necessary, Mason suggests bringing personal items in plastic bags, which makes searches more efficient and drastically cuts time spent waiting in line.

    As in past years, there are two ticket packages available for students.

    The Red ticket package permits entry to all sporting events, including men’s basketball – students must sign up for basketball games over the Internet prior to each game – whereas the Blue pass includes access to every sport except for basketball.

    Despite a $20 increase from last year, the $125 and $85 prices are still some of the least expensive in the conference, Ponce said.

    While the price has increased, Ponce said the passes have been selling well during freshmen orientation but did not yet have exact number estimates.

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