SBD/April 11, 2011/Franchises

McCourt Agrees To Pay For Increase In Police Officers At Dodger Stadium

Villaraigosa, McCourt, Beck (l to r) announce increased security at Dodger Stadium
L.A. Police Chief Charlie Beck Friday said that Dodgers Owner Frank McCourt has "agreed to pay for an increase in the number of LAPD officers patrolling" Dodger Stadium and its parking lots "during and after games," according to Rubin & Shaikin of the L.A. TIMES. McCourt "consented as well to create a computer mapping and crime tracking system for the stadium that is similar to the one the LAPD has used for years to scrutinize crime patterns and hotspots throughout" L.A. Beck said that the Dodgers also have "agreed to revoke the passes of season-ticket holders if they or their guests misbehaved." The changes, which will take effect in time for the Dodgers' next home game against the Cardinals on Thursday, "mark a turnabout for the team" after McCourt earlier this month said that he was "satisfied with the team's security measures." At a news conference Friday with Beck and L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, McCourt said that he "fully supported a greater police presence and acknowledged hearing concerns from fans who felt unsafe at the stadium." McCourt: "We are going to provide a safe, family-friendly, fan-friendly environment at Dodger stadium. I promise you that." McCourt also "expressed skepticism that curbing alcohol sales would make a significant difference," saying, "I don't think it's the sale of beer that's a problem, per se. I think it's the abuse of that privilege." But Beck said that he believes "beer and alcohol consumption did, in fact, contribute to the problems at the stadium and said police officials were pushing the Dodgers to raise prices and stop sales at an earlier point in the games." Dodgers officials "have told the LAPD that they are reconsidering their plan to sell half-price alcohol at six games this season," and Dodgers VP/PR & Broadcasting Josh Rawitch said that they also "promised to look at prices and serving sizes for alcohol, as well as when to stop serving alcohol" (L.A. TIMES, 4/9). McCourt: "I've heard the fans and the citizens of this community; they're uncomfortable with the behavior of some at Dodger Stadium. I have one message for the fans and the citizens of Los Angeles: I hear you loudly, and I hear you clearly" (ESPNLA.com, 4/8). USA TODAY's Robyn Norwood reports Beck has "made it clear the Dodgers are no longer calling the shots." Beck: "I will respect the fact the Dodgers are willingly paying for this safety, but I will deploy the resources necessary to keep fans safe" (USA TODAY, 4/11).

IMAGE IMPACT: In L.A., Bill Dwyre notes the Dodgers "return to Dodger Stadium Thursday and chances are decent that there will be more cops than fans." Dwyre: "Poor McCourt. It is hard not to shake your head in wonder at how entangled in negative stuff one person can get" (L.A. TIMES, 4/9). In N.Y., Ian Lovett wrote of Dodger Stadium, "That lingering image of a laid-back urban haven was shattered on opening day, when two people severely beat a San Francisco Giants fan in a parking lot after the game and left him with possible brain damage. The March 31 episode serves as a sobering reminder that Dodger Stadium no longer seems to fit its former image, and that many fans have become uneasy going there" (N.Y. TIMES, 4/10). USA TODAY's Norwood wrote the attack "has resonated loudly" in L.A., "shaking a Dodgers franchise that is one of the city's most venerated institutions but has been dogged by complaints of threatening and offensive behavior at the stadium" (USA TODAY, 4/11).

PREPARING TO STOP RETALIATION
: Giants Senior VP/Ballpark Operations Jorge Costa said that the team "will employ 'World Series-level' security measures" for tonight's home game against the Dodgers "to help prevent any retaliatory incidents from the Opening Day beating." ESPN L.A.'s Ramona Shelburne noted today's game is the "first between the two teams in San Francisco since the brutal attack" on March 31. Costa early last week "estimated that the security force for Monday's game would be '15-25 percent' larger than a typical home game," but "after meetings with his staff and San Francisco police on Sunday, he said the size of that force would be even larger, probably 30-40 percent bigger than a typical home game" (ESPNLA.com, 4/10).
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