March 16, 2006

Bomb Dog’s Alert Delays NCAA game

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - A San Diego arena was evacuated for about two hours on Thursday, delaying a first-round game in the hugely popular national college basketball championship, after a hot dog cart attracted the attention of a bomb-sniffing dog.

Thousands of fans arriving for a game between Marquette University and the University of Alabama were kept outside Cox Arena at San Diego State University until police determined that there was no bomb at the cart.

Authorities cordoned off part of the building to further investigate, college spokesman Jack Beresford said.

"They had a robot go in and disassemble the hot dog cart and look for suspicious substances and at this point we have determined that there is no threat and it's safe to enter the arena," Beresford said.

The dog "hit" on the cart at about 9:30 a.m. PST (12:30 p.m. EST), during a security sweep some two hours before the Marquette-Alabama game, Beresford said.

Players and fans had not yet arrived at the time of the evacuation but some employees and vendors were inside the 12,000-seat arena, he said.

Police cleared the building at about 11:30 a.m. PST (2:30 p.m. EST) and began letting fans inside.

It was not immediately clear how the delay would affect the four games scheduled for Thursday as part of the National Collegiate Athletic Association tournament, the sport's marquee event, which is televised in prime time and followed by millions across the country.