Updated 12/4/11 – 4:56 p.m.
CHICAGO (CBS) — Seeking to eventually phase out security pat downs at Soldier Field, officials began using handheld metal detectors on Sunday to screen many of the fans entering the stadium for the Bears-Chiefs game.
As WBBM Newsradio’s Brandis Friedman reports, fans who lined up to get into Soldier Field on Sunday were told to take all metal items, such as, out of their pockets and hold them in their hands.
Handheld metal detectors were used instead of pat-downs at two gates at Soldier Field when the Chicago Bears hosted the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday.
LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s Brandis Friedman Reports
“It was like a major experience. I said why are we going through a metal detector? We went through it and then ding ding … That’s what it came down to, was my earrings,” Bears fan Meghan McKenna said.
The Bears, through emails, told ticket holders to arrive early as the team prepared to scan as many as 30,000 fans at two stadium entrances,
“It was ridiculous. It took a really long time. I’ve never had to wait this long to get to a Bears game to get into the stadium,” Bears fan Colleen McKenna said. “We almost missed the national anthem.”
Not everyone listened and a crush of last-minute fans led to long entrance lines and frustration.
“I went to head on in and there was a hell of a line, people backed up all the way,” Jeremy Lande said.
Mark Zisook said, “Usually it takes about five minutes; took us about a half hour today.”
Soldier Field general manager Tim LeFevour said, “There was a big rush like there typically is late and unfortunately the system at this point kind of isn’t ready to handle that rush.”
About 20 minutes before the game, the backup was so bad the Bears halted the scans, but still continued with pat-downs, confusing some ticket holders.
“I was ready to go; had my wallet in my hand and everything and they didn’t even have a metal detector. It was just hand pat-down, it was ridiculous,” Lande said.
Handheld metal detectors have been used before at several other pro stadiums. Though there is no specific threat, Soldier Field executives said the new security measure isn’t going away.
“The Fans should expect it in the future. I would think next year it’ll be a policy or requirement by the NFL for 100 percent wanding at all games,” LeFevour said.
“I understand. I mean, it’s a safety thing, but it does suck,” Bears fan Joe Futrell said.
Stadium managers said the idea is to have a better screening process and a safer stadium. More handheld metal detectors should be used at the next Bears home game on Dec. 18 against the Seattle Seahawks.