SBD/Issue 49/Leagues & Governing Bodies

NFL Teams Worry That Fan Code Of Conduct Could Cost Customers

All But Two NFL Teams Still Allow Fans To
Tailgate At Least Four Hours Before Games
There is "rising concern" among NFL officials that "cursing, boozed-up fans are scaring away the family audience," according to a front-page Cover Story by Michael McCarthy of USA TODAY. The league is facing challenges as it tries to "fully implement a crackdown on unruly fans during the second season of NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell's Fan Code of Conduct initiative." The NFL "has hired an outside auditor to evaluate teams' compliance with a set of 43 recommendations it issued this past summer to try to lessen bad behavior by fans," but "just two of the 32 clubs are complying" with a limit on tailgating. Only the Buccaneers "switched to the league's recommended tailgating limit of 3 1/2 hours;" the Chiefs "have limited tailgating to that time frame for several seasons." The other 30 teams "continue to allow fans to tailgate for four to six hours before games." Teams "want a safer environment, but also worry about driving away their most loyal customers." NFL Dir of Strategic Security Jeffrey Miller said tailgating limits are a "work in progress." Miller: "We hope folks will implement this, or gradually work toward the 3 1/2 hours, because we think it provides us with a better opportunity to have fans come into our building in a condition that's not impaired." 

SUGGESTION BOX: McCarthy notes the NFL recommended teams restrict the "maximum serving size and number of alcoholic drinks sold in stadiums to no more than two 20-ounce beers," and 10 teams "have reduced their biggest brews this season to comply" with the suggestion. Only three teams now "serve beers larger than 20 ounces." The NFL also "called for all clubs to install text-messaging lines so fans can anonymously report troublemakers," and all 32 teams for the first time "have text-messaging lines." Miller indicated that NFL teams overall "had received more than 3,200 text messages through Week 9." Goodell said that "many ticket-buyers are noticing the difference" under his Fan Code of Conduct. Goodell said in a statement, "Fans are saying it's better, and that's what matters. I am hearing that directly and indirectly from fans." Miller said that the league "plans to conduct at least one fan survey at each game venue this season." Each team owner "will get a rating relative to fan-conduct measures," and Miller said that "those who don't measure up ... will be subject to unspecified 'remedial steps' by Goodell" (USA TODAY, 11/19). However SPORTBUSINESS JOURNAL's Don Muret reports texting "doesn't work everywhere." Ravens VP/Stadium Operations Roy Sommerhof said that the team "has not seen enough people tapping into the program to realize its full benefit" (SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL, 11/16 issue).

Auburn Fans Can Text Authorities About
Unruly Fans And Behavior During Games
SELF-POLICING: Sunday's edition of ESPN’s "OTL" examined the initative at Auburn Univ. allowing fans at football games to text authorities about unruly fans and dangerous behavior in the stands.  ESPN's Paula Lavigne noted Auburn officials last season "ejected over 249 fans over seven home games" at Jordan-Hare Stadium, and "some other colleges report kicking out hundreds of unruly fans per game." More than three dozen colleges this fall "have started offering text messaging as a way to report problems before they get out of hand." Lavigne: "Text messaging encourages fans to police themselves in stadiums where officers simply can't keep an eye on the thousands of people in each section." ESPN’s Bob Ley said there are "signs and policies and valiant attempts to limit and restrict alcohol consumption around and inside stadiums at sporting events, but it's a losing battle" ("Outside The Lines," ESPN, 11/15). Meanwhile, in N.Y., Pat Borzi reports the Univ. of Minnesota's student affairs department this season launched Check BAC, a program designed "to help deter binge drinking at football games." The program, which is "modeled after a program" at the Univ. of Wisconsin, "allows student season-ticket holders who are ejected from a game for intoxication offenses to attend future games by submitting to blood alcohol testing" (N.Y. TIMES, 11/19).

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