Ballpark security theater has officially gone from tragedy to farce

This is a bit awry of this site’s usual topic, but since I wrote it and some of you may be interested: The New York Yankees instituted a new biometric fingerprint-scanning method for fans to bypass the metal detectors that have made for huge lines at games, and it is as stupid as stupid can be:

Unlike airports, ballparks don’t usually have an ID-checking stage to skip. Security may want to know that you have tickets and that you’re not trying to smuggle in Uranium-235 under your cap, but they don’t give a crap about who you are. So the only way to expedite entry for the biometrically approved is to let them skip the metal detectors, provided they are bag-free—even though all they’ve shown is who they are, not what they’re carrying.

In other words, if you need someone to carry some brass knuckles into Yankee Stadium for your next bleacher brawl, I’m your man. Unless you want to take 60 seconds to join CLEAR Fast Access yourself, and stuff them in your own pockets.

There are differing reports on exactly what the experience has been for Yankees fans (and Giants and Rockies fans before them) who use CLEAR Fast Access to skip the lines: One person on social media claimed he was wanded, which did not happen at the gate I witnessed; another said she didn’t even have to submit to a bag check, which goes against what CLEAR officials told me. But either way, several MLB teams have now gone through the trouble of installing metal detectors at all gates (because the league now requires it, though wands are still an alternate option, and are widely used by the Mets, among other teams, to speed entry), discovered that it creates huge lines, then allowed fans to skip this step entirely just by proving they have a driver’s license and fingerprints.

If the detectors made little sense in the first place other than as security theater, this new wrinkle makes even less sense. But you know what they always say: Two wrongs make a right! Er, that’s how the phrase goes, right?


8 comments on “Ballpark security theater has officially gone from tragedy to farce

  1. My understanding, is like PreCheck, CLEAR also does some sort of background check situation or is that not true? If it had this component, and weeded out individuals who have at the very least a criminal background, than one would presume that would make a little more sense.

    As you pointed out in your article though, if someone wanted to inflict alot of damage, they could do so even in the parking lot as what happened to Gabby Giffords. Access to weapons and lack of appropriate security and police officers to handle disputes, or to react quickly enough, is going to create a far larger problem than whether or not someone uses the wrong ID or isn’t who they say they are.

  2. I thought it was like TSA Pre at first as well, but as I noted in the article, when I asked CLEAR officials what kind of background screening they did, they said none — it’s just an ID check. Darth Vader could walk in with a light saber so long as he had a valid driver’s license. (Though come to think of it, fingerprints might present a problem for him.)

  3. No, I just hung around outside but didn’t go in. Notwithstanding what my editor changed my article to imply.

  4. I went through a metal detector at Petco Park in San Diego and at the StubHub Center in Carson over the weekend and got wanded in Carson.

  5. Went to a Giants game in SFO in April. My near 70 year old father-in-law had a jack knife on his person (don’t ask me why) and brought it to my attention only once in the line. I shrugged and didn’t know what to expect. Get to the scanners, he places his knife in a tray, the woman notices it, he goes through, no bing, knife back, we watched the game.

    Sure reinforced why I needed to wait in line for 30 mins to clear security.

  6. Am I the only one wondering why people go through all this just to see a ball game in person?

    Almost everything about the experience is now better at home than at the ballpark. It is also cheaper and the beer and bathroom lineups are ‘significantly diminished’.

    I like the true ballpark experience too… in fact part of that can never be captured by any tv technology. But the drawbacks far outweigh the benefits nowadays IMO.

  7. Fortunately the Mets only have metal detectors at the no-bag lines, and I always have a bag with me (to carry my food so I don’t have to wait on the concessions lines), so I get wanded in pretty quickly. If I were a Yankees fan … well, I wouldn’t be able to tolerate that stadium anyway, so it’s kind of a moot point.

    Why anyone goes to football games is beyond me. Even aside from the fact that why anyone watches football is beyond me.