Ray Young Jr. didn't mind walking through a full-body scanner at the preseason Raiders game against Dallas. But he's not too happy about the prospect of arriving two hours early, as recommended by the Raiders to give fans enough time to get through the newly installed magnetometer machines stationed around 16 entrances to O.co Coliseum. But what really ticked him off was having to stand in line 45 minutes ¿with screws in his ankle, the result of a recent surgery the 71-year-old Modesto resident underwent.
The wait was the unintended consequence of a new NFL security mandate requiring searches from the ankle up. Ticketholders previously had to submit to a search from the waist up.
"Can you imagine what this is going to be like during a sellout?" Young, a lifelong Raiders fan, said by telephone.
A sold out Raiders game can pack 63,000 people into the Coliseum.
The team plans to offer promotions beginning Sept. 10 to lure fans into the Coliseum well before kickoff to cut down on the number of people trying to squeeze into the stadium at game time.
Ticketholders who arrive at least an hour before kickoff will be eligible to enter drawings for autographed memorabilia, field passes, locker room tours and other extras.
The NFL implemented the new pat down policy in September 2011 at the recommendation of the Department of Homeland Security. The week before a man sneaked a Taser into a
"DHS is also working with federal, state, local and private sector partners to support security efforts at the Super Bowl through additional personnel, technology and resources," the department reported in January 2011, when the NFL also joined a national Department of Homeland Security campaign called, "If You See Something, Say Something."
The league acknowledged publicly in 2011 the expanded searches would lead to longer lines and asked for patience. Some facilities installed full-body scanners. The 49ers responded to the NFL rule by using wands.
The Oakland Coliseum's new facility operator, Anschutz Entertainment Group, worried about bottlenecks at the 46-year-old facility whose entry ways are narrower and fewer than modern stadiums. So the Coliseum authority approved paying $340,000 for 110 machines that resemble devices used at courthouses and airports. They are not X-ray machines. The Raiders and AEG said they received compliments about the machines.
Young said he was rebuffed when he complained. And he was skeptical that the magnetometers cut down the waiting time because people have to empty their pockets and reclaim their items once they pass through the machines.
But Chris Wright, who oversees facility operations at O.co for AEG, said the magnetometers are an improvement over wands and pat-downs. The technology can hone in on metal objects so staff does not have to do an all-body search, Wright said. Also, exemptions for people who have trouble waiting in long lines -- pregnant women, the elderly and physically impaired -- will be made, he added. They'll be wheeled away during A's games but will be used at the Oracle Arena during Warriors games and other events.
"We see it as an investment in our fans guest experience. It is both quicker and far friendlier than pat downs," Wright said.