HOPEWELL — Dotted throughout a sellout crowd at Constellation Brands-Marvin Sands Performing Arts are flecks of bright green.
These 40 to 60 men and woman who don the lime-colored shirts during concerts at the Hopewell venue are from Swoop 1, Inc. — a private security firm based in Irondequoit. They’re the ones charged with keeping the aisle clear of fans, or dealing with the intoxicated fan who verges on belligerence. They’ve kept an eye on fun. lead singer Nate Ruess as he shot hoops and helped out LL Cool J when a mass of fans joined him on stage.
For them, it’s all part of the job — it’s all part of being CMAC security.
Swoop 1 was founded in 2000 by Steve Rosenbaum, 47, and Jim Frascati, 53. Rosenbaum recently retired from the Irondequoit Police Department after 25 years, and Frascati is currently in his 24th year with the same department. The firm has an office on Titus Avenue.
Many of their 75 employees are part-time and are retired officers, current police or younger workers looking to be hired by a department.
The law enforcement background has helped the green-clad crew deal with any situation that arises before, after, or during a CMAC concert, including identifying potential threats and dealing with fans who’ve had one too many beers. Still, there are some things that can’t be practiced.
“We have to be ready for the unexpected,” Rosenbaum said.
While some artists — including The Lumineers and Keith Urban — notified security ahead of time that they would be venturing into the crowd, others are more spontaneous. In situations where a musician will unexpectedly dive into the cluster of adoring fans, it’s up to the security team to act quickly and make sure the artist and fans are not injured. It’s not always just the star going into the crowd that security has to worry about, either — sometimes it’s the other way around.
“LL Cool J said to us that toward the end of the concert he was going to have 20 girls come up and dance with him, and (his personal security) would handle it,” Frascati said.
“Easily 75 went on stage,” Rosenbaum added with a laugh. “Their security team was like, ‘please help.’”
CMAC security will meet with the artist’s security detail to discuss and plan their strategy for the show. The Swoop team doesn’t interact with the performing artist much, Rosenbaum said, but if requested they would provide additional security when needed, including if the performer wanted extra guards while traveling around town.
This is Swoop 1’s first year working security detail at CMAC, though it had reached out to CMAC personnel in past years hoping to get the job, Rosenbaum said. They’ve worked every show this season, and will work the final show Sunday night when pop singer Ke$ha comes to town.
Page 2 of 3 - “We regularly open areas of the CMAC operations to proposals from organizations with expertise,” said CMAC General Manager Steve Williams. “Swoop1 was added this year after reviewing their proposal and considering their work at Sahlen’s Stadium (where the Rochester Rhinos soccer team plays) and Rochester area schools and businesses, as well as recommendations from others in the business.”
Swoop also assists with security during shows at Finger Lakes Casino and Racetrack in Farmington, and Rosenbaum and Frascati have watched over artists since the 1980s. Frascati even took on Rick Springfield in a round of the video game Donkey Kong while on security detail in Rochester more than 20 years ago. Rosenbaum was bested in Kong by the “Jessie’s Girl” singer, he recalled.
Working security on concert day is an all day affair. Swoop staff will arrive at the CMAC facility early to prep and will be among the last to leave, Rosenbaum said. Earlier this week, Swoop spent Aug. 21 working security detail for popular country musician Kenny Chesney.
“The performers have the back of the house and they have to feel secure,” Rosenbaum said. “It’s our job to make sure nobody wanders in; there’s a right time for autographs and pictures, and we want to make sure they don’t try to take advantage of the situation.”
At a sellout show — like the Chesney event — Swoop will staff around 60 workers. The owners didn’t want to detail the exact positions of their workers, but said they’re stationed throughout the facility, including near the stage, at the very back of the lawn seating area, and in places behind-the-scenes. Some guards remain stationary, while others move throughout the property, Rosenbaum said.
Dealing with intoxication
One of the biggest security concerns during concerts are those fans who consume copious alcohol.
“We had a guy a couple concerts ago with two beers in his hand and he couldn’t walk,” Rosenbaum said. “We got the beer from him, and he said ‘What are you doing? I’m just getting started.’ No one ever agrees with us that they’ve had too much to drink.”
That’s a situation where previous police experience helps. Rosenbaum said they make sure the intoxicated person is taken to the on-site medical station — the Canandaigua Emergency Squad is present for shows. The drunk fans aren’t just kicked off the grounds: The security team makes sure that person will have transportation and won’t be a danger once leaving the venue.
While the Ontario County Sheriff’s Office mostly deals with traffic during concerts, it also assists with handling belligerent concertgoers, said Sheriff Phil Povero.
If someone is apprehended for a violation in the venue — whether it’s drug possession, violence or something else — they are turned over to the sheriff’s office, Povero added. Additionally, the Swoop team maintains radio contact with sheriff’s deputies.
Page 3 of 3 - And while they help maintain order at CMAC, Rosenbaum and Frascati said they also like to see some personality under the green uniforms.
“We don’t just hire robots,” Rosenbaum said. “We have different personalities.”