New rules make for 'friendlier' stadium
By Brandon Masuoka
Advertiser Staff Writer
By Brandon Masuoka
University of Hawai'i football fans can cheer the Warriors with previously banned noisemakers as part of new security procedures at Aloha Stadium this season, but capped drink bottles are still prohibited inside the facility.
Ed Spezio, the stadium's Wackenhut site supervisor, said patrons will be allowed to use small megaphones and inflated balloon clappers. They will also be permitted to carry in backpacks inspected by security.
The revised procedures were meant to balance enjoyment and safety at 50,000-seat Aloha Stadium, according to interim deputy stadium manager Scott Chan. The stadium implemented strict security procedures immediately after the 9/11 attacks, but has gradually relaxed some rules in following seasons.
In recent years, some fans clamored for artificial noisemakers at the stadium, saying more cheering would enhance the stadium experience and provide a home-field advantage.
"We want to be a ... friendlier facility," said Chan, who said current stadium officials no longer view noisemakers as a "nuisance," and embrace the marketing possibilities with them.
"We want to make sure we create a pleasant experience for our fans," Chan added. "Part of that experience is cheering for your team. Some of these items had no real harmful effect in providing safe security."
Under the new procedures, "basically that means any bag can come in, subject to check," Spezio said. That may cause longer waits at entry gates, but fans without bags are encouraged to use nearby express lanes for quicker entry, he said.
Meanwhile, vendors will continue to remove caps on bottled drinks. Capped drink bottles filled with liquid pose injury risks when they are thrown, Chan said.
Many patrons want caps, and some complained to stadium officials about accidental spillage with uncapped drinks, Chan said.
As remedies, Chan said the stadium is working on securing a sponsor to provide cupholders on seats. Stadium officials are also making sure the concessionaire provides more trays for patrons, and are encouraging vendors to "pour the water in a cup and cover it" if needed, he said.
Finally, Chan said ti leaves — commonly used by fans as good luck — have always been permitted inside the stadium. However, the stadium won't allow patrons to carry in ti leaf plants with long stalks, or ti leaves attached to long sticks, because it poses a safety hazard when patrons "whip" them around, he said.
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