U.S. Open fans wait on long lines for security checks

A fan passes through a metal detector at

A fan passes through a metal detector at the South Plaza entrance at the U.S. Open as part of the U.S. Tennis Association's enhanced security for the tournament. (Aug. 26, 2013) Photo Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke

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Fans heading to the U.S. Open Tuesday will hopefully avoid the kind of heavy delays seen Monday when hundreds stood in line for nearly an hour to get through security checks, which for the first time included the use of metal detectors.

"This is the most unorganized thing I've ever seen at the U.S. Open," said Jodi Kessler of Oceanside, who was among those lining up at the East Gate entrance Monday, where subway riders are deposited.

"I come here every year and it has never been like this," said Kessler, who like many others interviewed said they had been waiting for about an hour to get into the tennis center for the first day of competition.

The lines stretched from the entrance of Arthur Ashe Stadium to the subway station. A dozen fans said they had no idea that the United States Tennis Association had installed metal detectors for the first time.

"I would've come earlier had I known," said Meg McSherry, 33.

The new security policy was put in effect in the wake of the bombings at the Boston Marathon last April, though the list of banned items, including backpacks, is the same as in years past.

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Officials with the USTA acknowledged Monday's snag and promised to take a three-pronged approach to prevent the long lines going forward.

"It took too long for fans to get in today. We recognize that," said Chris Widmaier, a USTA spokesman. "We're going to make that better."

According to Widmaier, gates will open half an hour earlier, at 9:30 a.m. There will be more staff conducting security checks, and officials will better communicate that there are separate lines for those not bringing in bags.

Ewandro Defaria, 34, of Brazil, and his father-in-law each were carrying a black backpack and were turned away Monday when they reached the security checkpoints outside the East Gate.

"I was surprised," said Defaria, who had to pay $5 to store his bag in a locker.

The current security process has visitors emptying pockets and getting bags inspected before walking through metal detectors.

At the East Gate, where Widmaier said 90 percent of spectators enter, there are seven metal detectors working, with three others set aside for those needing additional screening.

"I get it, obviously, but it's definitely an inconvenience," said Barry Wagner, 39, of Scottsdale, Ariz.

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Banned items

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  • Backpacks

  • Hard coolers or similar containers

  • Sealed packages

  • Bottles or cans

  • Aerosol cans or noisemaking devices

  • Alcohol

  • Video cameras or recording devices

  • Computers or laptops

  • Food (except in limited quantities, or for medical, dietary or infant purposes)

  • Weapons

  • Animals (unless a service animal)

  • Flags, banners or signs

  • Laser-pointing devices

  • Tennis racquets

  • Any other items deemed inappropriate or dangerous by U.S. Open personnel

Source: USTA

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