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Bomb Blast at Packed Somalia Soccer Stadium Kills Five Fans

By Associated Press

April 12, 2018

MOGADISHU, Somalia (AP) — A bomb exploded at a packed football stadium in southern Somalia and killed five spectators while wounding several others, police said Thursday evening.

The Somalia-based, al-Qaida-linked al-Shabab extremist group immediately claimed responsibility for the explosion in the port town of Barawe. Witnesses said the bomb had been buried in the sandy stadium and went off during the local-level match.

Most of the eight people wounded were in serious condition and were being treated at a local hospital, police Col. Abdirizak Ahmed told The Associated Press.

Barawe once was a key al-Shabab stronghold before Somali and African Union forces seized the town and drove out the extremists, who had banned sports activities in areas under their control. Al-Shabab still has a large presence in Lower Shabelle region and has carried out several attacks in the town.

The extremist group often targets high-profile areas of Somalia’s capital, Mogadishu, and it was blamed for the October truck bombing there that killed 512 people in the country’s deadliest-ever attack. Only a few attacks worldwide since 9/11 have killed more people.

A month before the October bombing Mogadishu celebrated its first nighttime football match in decades, with many residents calling it a step forward in a fragile recovery from decades of violent chaos. And late last year the country’s football federation announced its intention to start hosting international matches this year, citing what it called an improving security situation.

The Horn of Africa nation continues to struggle to counter al-Shabab, which has been called the deadliest Islamic extremist group in sub-Saharan Africa. Concerns have been high over plans to hand over the country’s security to Somalia’s military as a 21,000-strong African Union force begins a withdrawal that is expected to be complete in 2020.

The U.S. military, which has stepped up efforts against al-Shabab in the past year with dozens of drone strikes, has said Somali forces are not yet ready.

Dodgers Investigate Allegations of Security Beating Fan

by Sarah Batcha
March 2018
Copyright 2018 Digital First MediaAll Rights Reserved
The Daily News of Los Angeles

The Los Angeles Dodgers are investigating claims Friday that a fan was severely beaten by stadium security on Opening Day.

Dodger security and Los Angeles Police Department officers were allegedly seen in a video captured by a witness holding someone down as they took him into custody at Dodger Stadium Thursday.

Franco Rodriguez of Norco told ABC7 “there was about 10 of them completely all punching me in my face, throwing blows to the side of my stomach, kicking me.”

Rodriguez had his injuries photographed after he left a hospital Friday morning. He said that he wasn’t drunk and that it started when he was watching another fan “getting a hard time from security.”

Rodriguez told ABC7 he asked officers what the problem was, and the next thing he knew, he was being escorted out of the stadium. It was unclear what caused his expulsion from the game.

“My whole side of my legs are completely bruised from the kneeing that they were doing,” Rodriguez told ABC7. “It’s nothing that I’m making up because they have footage. It will all show what they did to me.”

What also hurts Rodriguez is that he said he’s been a die-hard Dodger fan for nearly two decades. He also told ABC7 that he spent $15,000 for his family to attend last year’s World Series. He also said he isn’t sure what he wants to do next.

“I’m definitely going to voice my opinion to them and I will hear them out, just like they need to hear me out also,” he said.

Police officers responded to what they called “a private person’s citizen’s arrest,” LAPD Officer Tony Im told City News Service.

“Security called us and we responded to the location,” Im said.

Rodriguez was taken to a hospital for treatment of his injuries and the responding officers took a “crime report, alleging a battery had taken place,” Im said.

Rodriguez was named as the suspect, Im said.

“The report will be eventually turned over to the Los Angeles City Attorney’s Office which could decide to file a misdemeanor charge against Rodriguez,” Im said.

The team issued a statement saying “we are investigating the matter and have no further comment at this time.”

Police arrest 6 accused of planning stabbing rampage during Berlin Half Marathon

Police arrest 6 accused of planning stabbing rampage during Berlin Half Marathon

By Cleve R. Wootson Jr. April 8, 2018

German authorities had been watching the suspected terrorists for weeks.

Tipped off by a foreign intelligence agency, they believed at least one of them had a link to Anis Amri, a Tunisian who barreled a truck through a Berlin Christmas market in the last Islamic terrorist attack on German soil, according to the Associated Press. Police were watching one suspect’s movements around the clock.

On Sunday police said they arrested the man and five co-conspirators and foiled an alleged plot intended to inflict horror. The arrested men had planned to wade through dense crowds of runners and spectators at the Berlin Half Marathon, using knives to slash at anyone in reach, authorities said. Police have not released the names of the men who have been detained or any information about the charges they face.

More than 36,000 people participated in the event, setting an attendance record, according to the BBC. The race was guarded by more than 630 police officers and went off undisturbed.

“In the run-up to the Berlin Half Marathon, there were isolated indications that the six detainees, between the ages of 18 and 21, may have been involved in the preparation of a crime in connection with this event,” the Berlin police department said in a statement on its website.

Police said they were also on alert after a man plowed a van into a crowd  in the northern German city of Münster on Saturday, killing two and injuring 20 others.

Investigators have not released a motive, but said the man was a “psychologically disturbed” German national and that they don’t suspect a link to terrorism, according to The Washington Post’s Souad Mekhennet and Michael Birnbaum. The man had had several run-ins with local police, including a time when he threatened his father with an ax.

Still, “the attack sparked fears on a continent that has been hit repeatedly by attacks in which vehicles have been turned into weapons in crowded city centers,” Mekhennet and Birnbaum reported.

In Berlin, police conducted raids before the race started, including at a house that was searched after the Christmas market attack, CBS News reported. In one of the homes, search dogs indicated the presence of explosives, although police haven’t released more details.

On Sunday, German Interior Minister Horst Seehofer said the government would do everything it can to protect citizens. “We have again experienced that absolute security is unfortunately not possible,” he said, according to CBS News.

Still, the German anti-terror apparatus has been bolstered in the past two years.

According to Reuters, after Amri’s attack, German leaders called for tougher security measures. No major Islamist attack has been carried out in the country since then.

The Berlin Half Marathon has been held annually in Germany’s capital since the early 1980s and now attracts tens of thousands of runners from around the world. Erick Kiptanui, of Kenya, won Sunday’s race in 58 minutes, 42 seconds, a course record that equaled the fastest time in the world this year, race organizers said on their website.

Can Spctator Seating Be Both Steep and Safe

Can Spectator Seating Be Both Steep and Safe?

by Matt Rossetti
April 2018

The Bell Centre in Montreal is known as one of the NHL’s most intimidating venues for visiting players, mainly due to a large lower bowl and steep upper-bowl seating. In fact, Detroit Red Wings general manager Ken Holland stated that from a player’s perspective, this type of design makes it seem like “everybody is on top of you.”

In addition to the home-team advantage the design provides, it also gives fans better sightlines to the action and lets them feel more engaged in the event due to such close proximity. This is an increasingly important factor, as in-person attendance for sporting events continues to decline and ownership groups seek new solutions to provide a better live experience.

But that proximity carries a potentially steep price. Fan accidents at the 19,000-seat Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y., have led to at least four lawsuits resulting from fans tripping and falling in the arena’s steep upper bowl. More commonly, fans attending events at arenas with steep stairs complain of experiencing vertigo. Looking up at seemingly endless rows of seating can make fans feel as though they are falling.

These types of incidents have raised some serious and difficult questions. At a time when owners and their architects are facing mounting pressure to improve the fan experience to halt and reverse dropping attendance rates, is there a way to prioritize both the fan experience and fan safety without compromising either?

Safe space

The short answer is yes, but it requires owners and venue designers to think creatively about new and unique solutions that evolve existing design elements in exciting ways.

Take the gondola seating in Detroit’s Little Caesars Arena, which opened last September. This section features a suspended steel frame that hangs from the arena roof, giving fans, broadcasters and team personnel in the gondola an unobstructed bird’s-eye view of the action.

This concept isn’t all that new, however. It actually takes cues from Maple Leaf Gardens, which opened in 1931, as well as the Chase Bridge in Madison Square Garden. Maple Leaf Gardens featured a broadcast booth perched five stories up that was said to look “like the gondola of a cruise ship.” When Little Caesars Arena was built, it incorporated this idea of a high-level vantage point, but evolved it into a separate seating structure that hangs from the roof rafters more than 90 feet above the playing surface.

As a safety measure, the gondola seating in Little Caesars Arena features clear Plexiglas barriers in the front row to keep fans secure, with waist-high drink rails performing the same function for fans in the back row.

A new era of arena design

Other innovative architects and arena design professionals are going a step further and completely rethinking the traditional arena design.

Consider that even though stairs have gotten steeper, bringing fans closer to the action, the foundational principles of arena design haven’t changed much in the thousands of years since Roman times, with seating progressively moving up and away from the playing surface.

With live entertainment competing with modern home-entertainment technologies that make the home viewing experience that much better, the in-person experience needs to give fans something they can’t get at home.

One promising new model begins by upending some of the most basic tenets of arena design. Conceived as a way to preserve and enhance arena excitement while integrating the immersive qualities of an intimate environment, the inverted bowl is a proprietary concept that has been developed and tested over the past seven-plus years. The inverted bowl design solves the steep-upper-deck dilemma by doing something unexpected: it doesn’t back away, it leans in — with revolutionary balcony seating that catapults viewers closer to the action. The result is broadcast-quality views that are up to 50 percent closer.

The inverted bowl doesn’t just preserve fan safety — it prioritizes it. Larger landings and less crowding minimizes the chances of accidents and keeps fans away from edges — all without compromising viewing positions.

Typical inverted bowl design features four tiers, with each tier seating roughly 2,000 spectators in three rows of seating. Dividing the upper bowl into multiple tiers means guests will navigate fewer stairs to get into and out of their seats. This compartmentalizes the population, allowing for lower density on the concourses, which reduces the chance of panic and crowding in an emergency.

Additionally, a tier of only three rows greatly reduces the vertigo experienced in a steep upper bowl. A spectator seated in the last row of a typical 20-row upper bowl may have to traverse nearly 60 steps to get to their row, and then precariously sidestep in front of seated spectators to access their seat. By comparison, the number of steps in the tiers of the inverted bowl never exceeds 10, which is akin to a typical two-story residence.

A stationary seat with a swing mechanism secures patrons in their seats, and instead of walking in front of other fans to access a seat, individuals walk safely behind the swivel chairs, keeping passersby safely behind tall chair backs. This is achieved by designing each row to be 25 percent deeper than that of the typical upper bowl, adding an additional 12 inches of space for spectators to circulate comfortably. There has never been a bowl designed where fans step behind the seats — a solution that keeps both seated viewers and passersby safe and comfortable.

Concepts like this have the potential to inspire a new generation of arena design and a new era in live entertainment. As more venue designers look beyond traditional conventions to create novel — even unorthodox — venue concepts, the sky’s the limit in terms of upper-level seating and fan engagement.

This article originally appeared in the April 2018 issue of Athletic Business with the title “Do steep arena bowls compromise spectator safety?.

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