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Proposed California Bill Would Ban Violent Sports Fans from Stadiums

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A bill proposed by California Assemblyman Mike Gatto (D-Silver Lake) would ban violent sports fans from stadiums, reported the Glendale News-Press. If passed, the legislation would force each major sports franchise to donate $10,000 to fund a program to offer rewards in exchange for information about fans who have committed violent crimes at games. Once convicted, offenders would be prohibited from attending sporting events for up to five years. A second conviction would result in a 10-year ban. Violators of such bans could face imprisonment for one year and a $10,000 fine. The vicious beating of San Francisco Giants fan Bryan Stow at Dodger Stadium last year was the impetus for the bill.

“The depravity of the act and the severity of the victim’s injuries was a clear indication that the law was not adequately protecting sports fans,” said California personal injury attorney James Ballidis.

After the March 31st, 2011 opening day game between the L.A. Dodgers and the San Francisco Giants, 29-year-old Louie Sanchez and 30-year-old Marvin Norwood prayed on fans of the visiting team in the parking lot of Dodger Stadium. After striking some young fans, the pair went after Stow, a 42-year-old Santa Clara County paramedic. Sanchez initiated the attack by chasing Stow and punching him in the head from behind, the impact causing him to lose consciousness and fall to the ground, hitting his head against the concrete. Sanchez proceeded to repeatedly kick Stow in the head. The pair then fled the scene, forcing investigators to conduct an extensive search. Once apprehended, they were charged with mayhem, assault, battery, and other counts, reported ESPN.com.

While violence has long accompanied sporting events, targeting perpetrators through legislation is a rather new approach. Following repeated raucous and rioting resulting in death and injury at soccer games, England invested its courts with the power to exclude citizens from sporting events with the passage of the Football Spectators Act of 1989, which was amended as the Football (Disorder) Act of 2000. Under the law, those banned from attending soccer matches are also subject to having their passports revoked during international games, thereby preventing their attendance.

“Diversions, such as baseball and football games, should not be deadly events,” said personal injury attorney James Ballidis. “Hopefully, legislation can ensure the safety of fans.”

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