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Risk in Context

SAFETY Act Offers Another Tool for Reining in Growing Terrorism Risks

Posted by Scot Ferrell July 14, 2016

The recent surge of terrorist attacks at nightclubs, restaurants, stadiums, and other public spaces is a reminder that events and venues, particularly sports-oriented ones attracting large crowds, are ideal soft targets for terrorists. In fact, the terrorist cell responsible for the Paris and Brussels attacks also intended to attack the Euro 2016 soccer tournament.

In light of these terrorism risks, the US State Department issued a travel alert for the entire European continent ahead of the tournament. Effective through August 31, the alert noted, "…stadiums, fan zones, and unaffiliated entertainment venues broadcasting the tournaments in France and across Europe represent potential targets for terrorists, as do other large-scale sporting events and public gathering places...”

Also prospective targets, US stadiums and sports facilities should establish and maintain a heightened level of preparedness and response capabilities. In doing so, sports organizations should consider their potential liability if safeguards fail.

This is where the SAFETY Act (Support Anti-Terrorism by Fostering Effective Technology Act) comes into play. Several major sports leagues and venues already have sought the protections offered by the SAFETY Act.

SAFETY Act Benefits

Implemented as part of the Homeland Security Act of 2002, the SAFETY Act enables sports organizations to apply for tort protection coverage by the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) for the physical and cyber security systems and security protocols, procedures, and policies used to protect facilities and assets.

Awardees may receive substantial tort protection, which may include exclusion of punitive damages, favorable-forum selection, and capped liability.

Although only a few venues have been awarded SAFETY Act coverage, more are seeking protection, following recent terrorist attacks.

Before You Apply for SAFETY Act Coverage…

Key questions you should ask before pursuing SAFETY Act protection include:

  • Have we performed physical and cyber vulnerability and security assessments recently?
  • Are our plans sufficient to enable us to manage an emergency, crisis, or business disruption?
  •  Do we have adequate financial mitigation measures to sustain multiple claims or liability lawsuits following a terrorist attack? 
  • In an emergency, could all our spectators, fans, players, team employees, venue staff, and vendors evacuate or shelter-in-place safely and quickly?
  • Are we prepared to deal with the surrounding community, continue with operations, and recover effectively?
  • When did we last review and test our plans?
  • Have key personnel received adequate emergency, crisis, or business disruption response and management training?

The safety of spectators and fans, players and team employees, venue staff, and vendors is paramount for sports organizations. Effective anti-terror technology and risk management strategies play an important role in overall protection, prevention, and mitigation. They also can help you protect your organization’s bottom line and reputation when combined with a successful award under the SAFETY Act.  

Related to:  Sports , Marsh Risk Consulting

Scot Ferrell

Managing Director, Marsh Risk Consulting