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Wednesday, November 16, 2005
New York City Council Passes Stadium Safety Law

There is a reason why David Letterman once joked that the phrase "Yankee Stadium -- where everyday is helmet day" would make a fitting slogan for the New York Yankees. It's also why Roger Angel of The New Yorker remarked that when Yankees fans threw bottles and debris at Boston Red Sox players during Game 6 of last year's American League Championship Series, it made him "sit back and wish for winter."

And it's why the New York City Council has just passed a new law that imposes jail time and up to $25,000 in fines for throwing debris onto the field. The law impacts stadiums in New York City, which includes Yankees Stadium and Madison Square Garden. City Councilman Peter Vallone Jr., who authored the law, says he was most animated by the danger posed to Red Sox players during Game 6 of last year's ALCS. He said he that had to duck debris during the game, and that "it was a potentially dangerous situation." In fact, after that game, Red Sox manager Terry Francona said he almost pulled his players off the field.

This law seems like a good idea. Fans who throw things at players on the field are not fans that we want in the stadium. They can hurt players, umpires, coaches, and, of course, other fans. Their presence may also raise ticket prices: teams need to higher additional security guards and invest in other stadium-safety measures in order to neutralize rowdy fans, and presumably some of the costs of those investments are reflected in the ticket price. In other words, safe fans essentially subsidize rowdy fans.

Moreover, previous laws do not appear to sufficiently deter fans from throwing debris onto the field--if those laws were sufficient, then we wouldn't see debris thrown onto the field. Also, while Yankee Stadium might be especially dangerous, I imagine city councils in other cities might now endorse tougher penalties.

Related Coverage:
* Rushing the Court (Field) Tragedy: Student Dies in Minnesota
* Violent Sports Fans and Bystanders: How Might the Law and Economics of Ticket Prices Influence Team Liability
* Rushing the Court(house)
* Injured Phillies Fans Strikes out Again


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