January 11, 2017 11:07 PM
Protesters, who rappelled from the roof of U.S. Bank Stadium after smuggling 65 feet of rope and a large banner through security, did not breach stadium security policies but did expose a “design flaw” in the new billion dollar stadium, according to the head of the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authorities (MSFA).
Michele Kelm-Helgen testified before state lawmakers Wednesday about security issues related to the New Year’s Day incident in which protesters unveiled a large banner calling for U.S. Bank to divest from the controversial Dakota Access Pipeline project.
Kelm-Helgen said a group of five protesters did not technically breach gate security because the contraband used to rappel from the roof was not made of metal and therefore would not have set off the metal detectors.
Instead, Kelm-Helgen blamed the breach on design issues with secured ladders.
“There is actually a ladder to get up to the roof on the ridge truss,” Kelm-Helgen said, adding that preventative measures limiting access to the ladder were not sufficient.
“(The protesters) were able to scale that and get up there so that is what is being addressed, is the design issue that allowed them to get (to the truss),” she said.
Kelm-Helgen said security will be added in vulnerable areas and a full security consultation will be done to identify other potential areas of exposure.
Dr. Stephen Ross, a professor at Concordia University who has studied fan interaction and sports stadium use, says the protesters exposed a “very non-traditional” risk.
“In this case I don't think it was a design flaw with the stadium itself,” adding it would be easy to overlook such an issue during construction.
Ross said he is more concerned that the protesters were not flagged while entering the stadium.
“While there were no policies against bringing those materials in (to the stadium), it seems interesting the size and the amount of materials needed was able to get through the gates,” Ross said.
Kelm-Helgen addressed that concern during her testimony at the capitol, saying it would require security to have fans take off their coats before entering the stadium because the protesters wrapped the rope and banner around their bodies.
“Even then it could be under a football jersey,” she added.
Updated: January 11, 2017 11:07 PM
Created: January 11, 2017 10:12 PM
Copyright 2017 - KSTP-TV, LLC A Hubbard Broadcasting Company