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New security policy to be implemented at Walleye games

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A packed house watches the Toledo Walleye face the Quad City Mallards at the Huntington Center. The Walleye have announced increased security measures for their home games.

The Blade/Kurt Steiss
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The Walleye will be stepping up security measures for all of their games at the Huntington Center.

Beginning on Saturday before Toledo's game against Wheeling, all visitors entering the downtown arena will be subject to a walk-through screening and bag check.

In addition, the team is banning patrons from bringing in a list of prohibited items. The list includes large bags, food and beverages, weapons, and cigarettes. In a news release, the organization also states that it can object to “any other item deemed unacceptable by building management.”

Team officials said the safety of the fans is the organization's top priority. Visitors are encouraged to get to the game early on Saturday. Doors will open at 6 p.m., with opening faceoff at 7:15 p.m.

Walleye coach Dan Watson said he is in favor of the increased measures in the wake of the mass shootings in Las Vegas and suburban San Antonio, Texas.

“You have to have it. That's the way world is with everything that is happening,” Watson said. “I think it's important that the Huntington Center goes through and takes any risk out of it. If this is something they can do to protect the people coming to enjoy a hockey game, I'm all for it. People shouldn't have to have that in the back of their mind. They're going to do all they can do.”

Bags larger than 14 inches by 14 inches by 6 inches will not be permitted. However, diaper and medical bags will be allowed. Fans will be asked to remove cell phones and place them in trays. Keys and change may stay in pockets, the policy states.

Among the items that will be confiscated are cans, bottles, coolers, or other similar containers. Laser pointers, fireworks, aerosol spray cans, tools, pets (except service animals), and chairs of any kind also are banned.

Cigarettes and ecigarettes also are prohibited. The Huntington Center does not have smoking areas inside or outside of the venue.

There are several entrances to the arena and visitors will be screened at each door. Ticket turnstiles will still be used at all entrances located on Jefferson Street, Huron Street, Madison Avenue, and at the SeaGate Convention Centre Bridge.

Neil Neukam, the Walleye's executive vice president and general manager, said the organization has always had a security plan in place with local authorities when it comes to overall safety.

“The [walk-through screening devices] are already in place with other events at the Huntington Center and are common place amongst many other professional sports venues around the United States,” Neukam said. “The main purpose is to provide another layer of security and safety for our fans and guests.”

ECHL officials said the league does not have general security policies or guidelines for its teams. The league allows each building and facility to determine the level of security based on the equipment and personnel that is in place.

In February, 2016, team officials with the Wichita Thunder implemented a similar policy to that initiated by the Walleye. The security enhancements included walk-through metal detectors at every arena entrance.

Toledo plays at Wheeling on Friday night. There is no standard security screening process at WesBanco Arena, where the Nailers play.

Watson acknowledged that the new policies might create a bit of an inconvenience initially.

“But once it becomes a habit and something they are accustomed to doing, it will be no issue,” Watson said.

Contact Mark Monroe at mmonroe@theblade.com419-724-6354, or on Twitter @MonroeBlade.

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