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Archive for Thursday, March 14, 2002

Security tight at arena

March 14, 2002

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— Devastating terrorist attacks last year on the East Coast reverberate at the NCAA Tournament.

Six months after the Sept. 11 assault, security precautions for 800 media representatives covering the tournament in St. Louis have been ratcheted up to unprecedented levels.

"It's all about 9-11," said Tom Lamonica, a sports information officer at Illinois State University who is staffing the Midwest Regional in St. Louis. "We've never had security check-ins."

In the concrete bowels of the Edward Jones Dome, guards search through laptop computer bags each time reporters, photographers and others enter secure areas of the facility.

Lamonica said that before the attacks there didn't appear to be a reason to conduct screenings.

"It's just like growing up in the 1950s and 1960s, when people didn't think about seatbelts," he said. "Now, the searches are part of the routine just like seatbelts."

Indeed, in a sign of the times, folks here universally accepted the intrusion.

"Everybody has been great," Lamonica said. "I haven't had a single complaint."

 Staff writer Tim Carpenter can be reached at 832-7155.

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