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Security Increased for Regional at Pond

March 21, 2003|Lance Pugmire and Helene Elliott | Times Staff Writers

Anaheim police and the security staff at the Arrowhead Pond will increase personnel by as much as 30% and will subject all fans to electronic searches when the NCAA men's basketball West Regional is played there next week.

Russell Beecher, security and public safety manager at the Pond, said the stepped-up measures were in response to the war in Iraq, NCAA security requests and the arena's position in the Disneyland resort corridor, considered the No. 1 target of a potential terrorist act in Orange County.

"Our primary concern is that the athletes, fans and employees have a safe, fun and exciting tournament," Beecher said. "But we do advise all fans to arrive an hour before they usually would for an event here."

Arriving fans will be screened by "wands," hand-held metal detectors, and those bringing items larger than a purse will be asked to return the items to their cars.

Other sporting events have been affected as well. The Washington Marathon, which had drawn more than 6,800 entries for Sunday's race, was canceled because of security concerns.

Preparations continued in Washington, however, for the World Figure Skating Championships. The first official practices are scheduled today at the MCI Center and a secondary rink at the Washington Convention Center.

The participation of the U.S. team in the Women's World Hockey Championships April 3-9 in Beijing is jeopardized on two fronts: security concerns and a recent outbreak of a form of pneumonia called Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome in Vietnam, Hong Kong and China.

The U.S. team is scheduled to gather in Chicago next Thursday, then fly to China the next day.

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