• As part of its cybersecurity and critical infrastructure protection role, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, or CISA, recently conducted a virtual exercise with Major League Baseball's Cactus League. Credit: Shutterstock/Debby Wong
     As part of its cybersecurity and critical infrastructure protection role, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, or CISA, recently conducted a virtual exercise with Major League Baseball's Cactus League. Credit: Shutterstock/Debby Wong

CISA Conducts Exercise with MLB’s Cactus League

January 27, 2021
Posted by Kimberly Underwood
E-mail About the Author

Effort aims to boost security during Major League Baseball’s spring training in the southwest.


This week, the cybersecurity arm of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, known as CISA, held a virtual exercise and preparedness event with Major League Baseball’s (MLB's) Cactus League. The event aimed to boost physical security and cybersecurity at training, practices and games this spring in Arizona, CISA reported.

“Major League Baseball is grateful for the continuing collaboration between CISA, the Cactus League, and all other tribal, local, state and federal law enforcement and security partners in Arizona who work diligently to ensure the safety of all who attend spring training at the Cactus League,” said Dave Thomas, vice president of MLB’s Security and Ballpark Operations.

CISA representatives met virtually with officials from the league’s 15 teams, spring training facility managers, and state and local partners for the tabletop exercise. The event featured an information and intelligence sharing piece between public officials and the private sector, and an active threat scenario at a ballpark. The officials also reviewed pre-incident preparedness steps and stadium response plans for the spring training season, according to the agency. 

“While several of the teams and stadiums regularly review plans and conduct drills, for the second year in a row, a leaguewide exercise was held to allow everyone to share best practices and discuss coordination,” CISA’s report stated. 

The Cactus League is hosted annually in February and March at 10 stadiums in and around the city of Phoenix—MLB’s East Coast spring training, called the Grapefruit League, is held in Florida. Spring training offers a unique experience for players and fans in smaller, with more intimate ballpark settings and greater access to the players, according to the MLB. However, it can present more risks. CISA’s acting director noted that it was important to prepare for “a range of possible incidents,” including if an incident would affect more than one stadium, and how league and stadium representatives would interact with public or government officials.

Charged with helping to protect critical infrastructure and advising on cybersecurity risks and protections, CISA works with a broad range of federal, state, local and industry entities. The agency has staff located throughout the United States to advise businesses, schools and other organizations on how to enhance their physical and cybersecurity and improve their resiliency. As part of this role, CISA supports about 80 exercises per year.

“As the nation responds to the coronavirus pandemic and decisions are made as to schedules and fan attendance at stadiums, the work to keep fans, players and others safe does not stop,” said CISA Acting Executive Assistant Director for Infrastructure Security Scott Breor. “Today’s exercise was just one of the many examples of the planning and coordination that takes place to prepare for a range of possible incidents. CISA looks forward to building upon our existing relationships working with the Cactus League, all 15 teams, and Arizona and local officials to ensure everyone has a safe and enjoyable spring training experience.”

The agency reminded the public that it has a role to play in improving security and urged folks to remain vigilant and report any suspicious activity to stadium personnel or law enforcement. The Department of Homeland Security’s See Something, Say Something campaign offers more information for reporting suspicious behavior. In addition, resources are available on the agency’s website through its Hometown Security initiative.

“The Arizona Diamondbacks are excited to once again partner with CISA, Major League Baseball and our public and private sector partners from across the Valley and country on the second annual Cactus League Tabletop Exercise,” said David Ellis, director of security for the Arizona Diamondbacks. “This exercise gives us the opportunity to share ideas and best practices while identifying areas for improvement as we strive to provide the highest level of safety and security to our fans.”

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