Stadium violence was thrust into the national spotlight when Giants fan Bryan Stow was nearly beaten to death in Los Angeles in March 2011, and shooting incidents last August during a 49ers-Raiders preseason game at Candlestick Park prompted lawmakers to take action.
Now state legislation aimed at curbing such violence is set to be considered by the California Senate after being unanimously approved last week by the Assembly.
Originally set to create a ban list of problematic fans, the bill was watered down in committee hearings to include only the requirement that stadiums clearly post emergency phone and texting numbers for local security officials.
Assemblyman Mike Gatto, D-Los Angeles, the sponsor of Assembly Bill 2464, said the posting of numbers is an important first step. On-site security can respond much faster to incidents than if witnesses simply dial 911.
It took 15 minutes for authorities to arrive after Stow was brutally beaten by two suspects in a dimly lit parking lot outside Dodger Stadium after the first game of the 2011 season. The 43-year-old Santa Cruz father of two was in a coma for months and is now recovering at a rehabilitation facility, but he has been left with the cognitive ability of a child, his doctors have said.
“These incidents have broken my heart,” Gatto said. “Families are worried about taking kids to games.”
Gatto is pleased the bill is moving forward, although he said it’s unfortunate the ban list aspect was gutted by skeptical lawmakers, who he contends didn’t fully understand how the list would prevent repeat offenders from entering stadiums without controversial facial recognition technology.
He said research for the ban list included looking into hugely successful measures taken in Britain to impose extra punishment on continuously problematic soccer hooligans.
“You don’t want to fill up your prisons with these guys,” Gatto said. “You want to take away what they like, and what they like is going to a game. The specter of increased punishment is something that can work.”
The bill will be heard by the Senate Committee on Public Safety, likely in early June, before it moves to a Senate floor vote.