Rogers Place in downtown Edmonton will officially open its doors later this week. With thousands of people expected at the arena during any given event, and with the expected influx of people in the downtown core, security is one of the biggest challenges facing the new arena.
“We’re going to be operating a 24/7 security control room,” Kevin Kobi, director of security with the Oilers Entertainment Group, said.
“We will also have staff within Rogers Place 24/7.”
About 300 full- and part-time security officers have been hired to patrol Rogers Place, although the number of guards on shift at any given time will depend on the size and scale of each event.
“When it comes to staffing, we look at the type of event, we look at history associated to that event, we look at any information or intelligence associated to that event and then we determine what our staffing levels are going to be,” Kobi said.
Every security guard is licensed by the province and has gone through a training program called OEG University.
“Often the first person that you see is the security person there as you’re coming through the walk-through metal detectors. So, it’s really critical for me that my team has the understanding of safety and security, but they also have a very, very strong communication and customer experience orientation.”
The officers will be in charge of patrolling the hockey arena, Ford Hall and the LRT corridor from the Metro Line stop through to the casino. The security guards will work in conjunction with the Edmonton Police Service on things like keeping the peace and crowd management, in hopes of avoiding conflict.
“Ultimately, when you look at a place like the winter garden, we wouldn’t want to leave it to chance and all of a sudden end up with 10,000 people in an area that is really built for 3,500 to 4,000 people,” Kobi said.
The EPS has added 33 new officers to its downtown division, doubling the previous police presence in the area. Whether it’s enough is yet to be seen, as officers won’t really know what they’re dealing with until the doors to Rogers Place open.
“A lot of it is going to have to wait and see,” Staff Sgt. Christopher Edge said. “But I’m confident that the plans we have in place put us in a good position for Day 1 and moving forward, we can adjust on the fly.”
Security guards and police agree it won’t take long to figure out what works and what doesn’t.
With files from Kent Morrison, Global News.