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Thursday, May 5, 2016

Security No. 1 priority at Iowa

Friday, September 13, 2002

IOWA CITY--Fans who want to leave Kinnick Stadium at halftime and get back in better have another ticket.

In response to the Sept. 11 attacks, Iowa officials last year prohibited fans from re-entering the stadium unless they had an unused ticket. That rule is now permanent.

"We do have security concerns that just have to be addressed," said Mark Schantz, the university's general counsel and administrative liaison with the athletic department.

"We don't want to have any kind of tragedy take place and the fact is, Kinnick could be vulnerable if we allow re-entry."

Joe Chmelka, president of the Polk County I-Club, said he has heard from fans who are upset about the rule.

Chmelka said it could lead to problems for Saturday's game with Iowa State because the 70,397-seat stadium will be sold out, putting a strain on its facilities.

"I just don't want to think about the lines that are going to be at the concession stands and restrooms," he said. "It will be awful."

Many fans left the stadium at halftime of Iowa's first home game this year against Akron. But the Hawkeyes were leading 51-14 and there was little reason to return. Plus, the game drew only 51,495.

The Iowa State game will likely be close and it's a big rivalry, so fans would be more prone to stay until the end.

"I am sure there are those who think this is about getting something to drink at halftime, but it isn't," Chmelka said. "Smoking is banned except in a couple of places and a lot of people just need to get out and stretch their legs."

Chmelka said allowing fans to leave and return also would ease the pressure on the restrooms and concession stands.

Chuck Green, the university's public safety director, said in a memo to Chmelka that 10 of the 11 schools in the Big Ten have a similar rule.

"When the gates first open, we can commit our entire staff of guards and police officers, plus our contract security guards, to all of the gates because the stadium is basically empty," Green said.

"Once the stadium is filled, all of my full-time guards and all of my police officers take up assignments inside the stadium that must be maintained until the end of the game."

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