Risk analyses follow a fairly standard template, whether the subject is a sports facility, a factory, or most any other large project. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) provides a useful template on its website at www.portal.hud.gov/hudportal/documents/huddoc?id=DOC_15129.doc. While HUD is oriented toward public housing projects, review of its template will provide a good sense of what needs to be included in a school project involving a risk assessment for a prospective sports facility, as many of the issues that need to be covered are the same, including a clear description of the project and its parameters and a list, usually in a spreadsheet format, reflecting probabilities of risk for various contingencies. The Marquette Sports Law Review’s Fall 1991 issue included an article by Bernard P. Maloy titled “Planning for Effective Risk Management: A Guide for Stadium and Arena Management,” that is, as indicated by the title, specific to sports venues and the risks of personal injury inherent in the management of a stadium or arena. Section II of Maloy’s article focuses on identifying risks associated with interaction between spectators with the facility. Areas specified as posing the highest level of risk are noted as follows:
“Areas of Heavy Use, such as entrances and exits, concourses, portals, rest rooms, and concession areas, present safety problems simply because they are places where fans congregate. There is always a safety concern when large groups of people congregate or cluster around a heavy traffic area.”
Maloy’s article continues to identify those areas of a sports venue where the risks to customer safety are the highest, including the anticipated misuse of spectators of venue facilities, for example, the tendency to push on glass doors rather than using the handles. [See http://scholarship.law.marquette.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1054&context=sportslaw]
A risk analysis questionnaire should include questions regarding the accessibility and design of common-use areas of a proposed sports facility. It should include questions specific to the purpose of the project and the numbers of spectators anticipated at various events; what measures are being taken to insulate athletes from direct contact with spectators, as “visiting” or otherwise unpopular athletes pose a risk of violent confrontation with intoxicated or unruly fans; the contingency plans for emergencies, including fires, bomb threats, and other potential events that can precipitate a rush for exits with the concomitant risk of citizens being trampled or children being separated from parents; the number of security personnel and their level of training for various events, including musical concerts that may be staged there; whether alcohol will be sold and what measures are in place to minimize problems associated with alcohol consumption; and what kind of insurance policies and legal protections have been prepared in anticipation of problems such as injuries from accidents and fights among spectators.
There is no shortage of possible problems that can occur before, during and after a major sporting or cultural event (e.g., the aforementioned concert), including in the parking lots (e.g., vehicle collisions, fights between intoxicated or excessively motivated spectators). All of these should be included in a questionnaire specific to sports venues.