SBJ/April 18-24, 2011/Opinion

Safety must be top priority

You know the story of San Francisco Giants fan Bryan Stow, the paramedic who remains in a coma after being attacked by two Los Angeles Dodgers fans during Opening Day at Dodger Stadium. There are so many angles to this story — the two responsible for the attack are at large; there were 72 reported arrests that day at Dodger Stadium and another 48 citations; the off-putting initial response from the Dodgers organization followed by a more firm response after the team retained additional law enforcement.

The simpler, more frightening theme: Was it safe to attend a baseball game? While top sports executives talk about improving the fan experience, there is one experience that should never be taken for granted — the ability to attend a sports event without concern of physical harm.

Steps can be taken: Far tougher alcohol restrictions should include better cooperation with alcohol sponsors for responsibility actions, better coordination with concessionaires with a focus on real vigilance and tougher steps by security for zero tolerance. The fan experience may be fine in the premium seats; the upper decks and parking lots tell a different story. Teams want to focus on the fan experience? Start with safety and security. That’s what should keep today’s decision-makers up at night.

Abraham D. Madkour can be reached at amadkour@sportsbusinessjournal.com.

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