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Violent fans banned from games? CA lawmaker introduces new bill

Dodger Stadium

March 14, 2012 12:00:00 AM PDT
Fans that get too rowdy at sporting events could soon be banned from seeing their favorite teams in person. That's the aim of a new state bill that would ban fans convicted of violent felonies at games.

State Assemblyman Mike Gatto (D-Los Angeles) introduced the bill, which would crack down on violent or unruly sports fans, putting their names on a list that would ban them from attending games for up to five years.

"I talk to a lot of people every day who are just afraid to take their kids to a ball game," said Gatto. "This is a list that would, at a judge's discretion, prohibit the worst wrongdoers from attending a sporting event, plus it would create additional enhanced penalties for people who do something as senseless as beating someone up at a sporting event."

The severe beating suffered by San Francisco Giants fan Bryan Stow after last year's Los Angeles Dodgers home opener had a significant impact on attendance. Many fans stayed away from the baseball stadium. The two suspects, Marvin Norwood and Louie Sanchez, are charged with several crimes.

Gatto said he is concerned about the economic impact on California's teams if fans stop buying tickets because of concerns about violence. But some fans aren't sure his legislation is the answer.

"It could be too harsh. Five years is a long time," said sports fan Tim Jimenez.

Others said the ban would be hard to regulate. Gatto said his plan is similar to the "no entrance" lists at Las Vegas casinos, meaning fans on the banned list could face big fines and other penalties if they're caught at a game.

According to Gatto, his bill is modeled after legislation in England and other countries that have been successful in reducing violence at soccer games.