People headed to Rupp Arena to see the upcoming Outcry concert or shows by James Taylor, Pearl Jam or Amy Schumer should arrive early.
The arena recently bought 30 walk-through detectors that will perform full body scans of people as they go into the more than 20,000-seat arena. The detectors will be used for the first time Saturday for Outcry, a concert featuring various Christian music performers.
Carl Hall, director of arena management, said moving to the stand-up metal detectors — similar to those at airports — was prompted by promoters such as Live Nation, which requires the stepped-up security as part of its contract to bring artists to Rupp. Plus, patrons want to feel secure. It’s part of a nationwide trend. The detectors have been installed at most major concert and sports venues, Hall said.
“Yum and Bridgestone Arena have already moved to this,” Hall said. The KFC Yum Center is in Louisville and Bridgestone is in Nashville.
Guns, knives and any other weapons are not allowed at Rupp. If they are found, people will be allowed to return them to the car; the arena won’t keep them.
Purses are checked by security personnel, and bag checks by hand will continue, Hall said.
“This is not like TSA airport security,” Hall said. “People do not have to remove their belts or take off their shoes. They won’t even have to take off their coats.”
People will be asked to remove keys and cellphones from pockets. If the detector goes off, patrons will move to another area where security will perform a second scan with hand-held wands. People won’t be asked to walk back through the detectors if an alarm sounds. That will help get people through the security lines faster, said David Herald, manager of security and guest services for Rupp.
Those in wheelchairs or with other special needs will go through a separate security line, Herald said.
Hall said the University of Kentucky has not decided whether it will move to the walk-through detectors for men’s basketball games. Currently, people attending the games are scanned with hand-held wands.
“They are going to be monitoring it and watching how it works,” Hall said of UK.
Arena staff tested the detectors during the recent NCAA women’s basketball tournament at Rupp. They were able to work out kinks and learn more about how the detectors work.
“We have already made a lot of adjustments,” Hall said.
The 30 units cost the arena $180,000.
Herald said that when the arena moved to hand-held wands and bag checks several years ago, Rupp staff got few complaints.
“In fact, we have had a lot of people thank us,” Herald said. “I think people want to feel safe.”