MIAMI (CBS4) – Security at the American Airlines Arena was noticeably heightened at Wednesday’s night final regular season Miami Heat game, the first home game the team has played since the bombings at the Boston Marathon Monday afternoon.
Fans were greeted by more cops and an extra security checkpoint.
The large area where vendors gather at the entrance to the arena, once open to the public, is now off limits to those without tickets.
“There’s usually one spot to go in with the tickets and then you’re in there,” Heat fan Matt Kolifrath said of the obvious addition. “But I think there’s going to be a lot harder now, or a lot more of a process I should say.”
Posted signs warned fans backpacks and large bags would not be permitted.
Julian Canals was turned away. He said he’d brought a backpack to a Heat game before, so didn’t think it would be a problem Wednesday.
He was told to lose the bag or leave the arena.
While the increased safety measures may have been an inconvenience to some, most fans were understanding.
“I like that they have the added security and I don’t mind waiting,” Sylvia Schneider said.
“I’m all for it,” Heat fan Adam Blanco told CBS 4′s Lauren Pastrana. “The more security, the better.”
Older trash cans were replaced with mesh containers lined with see-through plastic bags along Biscayne Blvd.
Cops from multiple agencies were everywhere.
Police K-9s and the bomb squad were also on-site.
“There will be a lot more uniformed officers outside the American Airlines Arena as well as inside,” Miami Police Spokeswoman Kenia Reyes said.
Miami officers will have their work cut out for them in the coming week.
Besides the play-offs, televangelist Joel Osteen will host America’s Night of Hope at a sold-out Marlins Park this weekend.
The Mercedes Benz Corporate Run will take place as scheduled next Thursday.
“We have definitely added security. But that’s something that we typically do,” Reyes said about the NBA post-season. “Our officers are well aware that they have to be heightened and on guard at all times.”
When asked for more details of the security policy, a spokeswoman for the American Airlines Arena released a statement which said, “For obvious reasons, our specific safety and security plans are classified.”
Fans attending future games should arrive early.