Carrier Dome security handling the frenzy of three court storms in one month


first_imgInside Syracuse’s locker room after its Feb. 4 win over then-No. 9 Virginia, John Gillon wished he could be the center of a court-storming celebration.For the second time in a week, fans rushed the Carrier Dome floor — after head coach Jim Boeheim’s unofficial 1,000th victory. It came seven days after Syracuse’s upset of then-No. 6 Florida State, which triggered the first of three court stormings this season — all in the span of a month.“I want to be in the middle of it and people holding me up,” Gillon said. “… Me dancing with everyone.”Gillon’s wish almost came true last Wednesday. His banked-in, buzzer-beating 3-pointer against Duke gave the Orange its third win against a Top 10 opponent at home. Fans rushed the court again. After Gillon finished mean-mugging near the scorer’s table and averting the mob of teammates, he headed for the celebration engulfing the hardwood. Fans waited with outstretched arms.Unfortunately for Gillon, a line of Carrier Dome staffers stood between him and the swarm. Live on ESPN with sideline reporter Allison Williams waiting to interview the fifth-year senior, he darted for the crowd before Syracuse director of athletic communications Pete Moore pulled Gillon’s shoulders to bring him back to isolation. Even though he was the hero, Gillon would not have made it to the fans with a Red Rover-like wall in front of him.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textAs much as these moments highlight players in the spotlight, it’s the security staffers outside it whose arduous job has been to maintain civility during a court storm not once, but three times this season.“They can’t do that,” Chief Facilities Officer Pete Sala said. “The last thing we need as an institution is one of our players get into something after the game … God forbid they don’t play in the next game.”For security, court-storming preparations begin well before tipoff. If Syracuse hosts a game Saturday, as it does this week against Georgia Tech, Sala holds a Tuesday meeting to discuss security measures for the game. Protecting against a court storm is especially important if an unranked Syracuse team hosts an opponent ranked as high as Florida State, Virginia and Duke. Sala then meets with referees and game operations staff an hour before tipoff, before meeting with Syracuse Fire Department members to ensure safety protocol is followed in the case of a court storm.There are four security groups represented at the Carrier Dome during any given game: yellow-shirted Dome staffers (“yellow shirts”), city fire department members, Department of Public Safety officers and Syracuse Police Department officers. The size of each group fluctuates based on the magnitude of the game and size of the crowd. For example, DPS Chief Bobby Maldonado assigned 40 officers to the Duke game, the most he’s staffed at a home game this season.If a court-storming seems possible with five minutes remaining in a game, Sala radios his yellow shirts to move into position. DPS officers, some coming down from the stadium’s upper levels, do the same. Neither Sala nor Maldonado revealed their group’s court-storming formation.“I can tell you that there are specific positions that we have our people in place,” Maldonado said. “… It’s our job, really, to keep people at bay.”Security prohibits students from filling the aisles before the buzzer sounds. When students walk on the court, about 30 yellow shirts form a wall aligned with the Carrier emblem. This way, teams can shake hands if desired and players, coaches, officials and scorer’s table equipment are protected.After Gillon’s buzzer-beater, Syracuse team security guard and DPS sergeant Andy Clary scrambled in front of the players’ mob to ensure it had gone untouched. Sala and other officers surrounded Gillon and ESPN cameras after he maneuvered into space and the team filtered back into the locker room. Security won’t order students to leave the court, as long as they allow players, coaches and officials to safely exit the floor.“We just celebrate and get out of there before somebody loses a leg or something,” Syracuse freshman forward Taurean Thompson said.Through three court storms there has been no damage, save for Boeheim’s chair after the Duke game, when Eric Devendorf threw it aside to join the celebration. Students and elder fans have been as civilized as those in charge of protecting against court storms have hoped. In turn, security hasn’t had an issue fulfilling its main goal: Monitor the court storm, don’t restrict it.“I think my staff does one of the best jobs in the country,” Sala said. “… You can’t stop it, so how do you manage it?” Comments Facebook Twitter Google+ Published on March 2, 2017 at 10:53 pm Contact Matt: [email protected] | @matt_schneidmanlast_img

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