Pat-downs OK At Games

In a ruling with wide implications for the live events business, the use of pat-down searches at Tampa Bay Buccaneers home games was given the OK by a federal appeals court.

A three-judge panel of the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals overturned a previous ruling June 26th in which a high school teacher successfully challenged what the NFL calls an essential layer of security – and what the sports fan said was a violation of his constitutional protection against unreasonable searches.

Gordon Johnston tolerated pat-down searches at Raymond James Stadium at three games in 2005, the year the searches began. The judges said he lost his right to challenge the pat-downs when he consented to them. Johnston contends he didn’t consent.

Other points were that there’s no constitutional right to watch a football game, Johnston was aware of the policy prior to the games and Buccaneers tickets can be revoked for any reason.

Lawsuits have also been filed in Chicago, Seattle and San Francisco but Tampa is the only NFL city where it was challenged successfully.

Johnston is talking to his attorneys to see what’s next – whether it’s asking the panel to reconsider its decision, requesting a review by all 12 judges of the 11th Circuit or an appeal to the Supreme Court.

One thing is for sure – the high school civics teacher, who said, "Knowing the Constitution, I think it’s the wrong decision," promised to get rid of his season tickets if the pat-downs continue.

It hasn’t been determined if the searches will automatically resume at the first preseason game August 10th or if a court has to reinstate them.

"Pat-downs are an important part of our comprehensive security procedures, including secure facility perimeters and bag searches," NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy said. "These limited, consensual security screenings are designed to enhance the protection and safety of our fans."