Gatto bill would ban, fine violent fans from sports venues

Violent sports fans may soon be banned from sporting events and a reward program could be set up to pay for information leading to their conviction under state legislation being drafted by Assemblyman Mike Gatto (D-Silver Lake).

Under the proposed bill, the names and photos of fans who are found guilty of committing violent acts at sporting events would also be posted on the Internet and circulated to sports venues, police departments and ticketing offices throughout the state.

Gatto said he’s writing the legislation, in part, because of the brutal beating of Bryan Stow during the opening game between the L.A. Dodgers and San Francisco Giants last year. After several months in the hospital for severe brain injuries, he continues with what his attorneys contend will be years of rehabilitation.

Many constituents have told Gatto that they feel increasingly unsafe at sporting events, he said.

“There are a lot of people who are afraid to go to a ball game,” he said.

Under the legislation, a person could be banned from sporting events for up to five years for the first conviction and up to 10 years for the second.

If a person on the list is caught attending a game, they could face up to a year in jail and a $10,000 fine.

Gatto said taking away the ability to attend sporting events should be a strong motivator for fans to behave in the stands.

“You’re taking away from people what they like the most,” he said.

Another component of the bill is a reward program for information leading to the conviction of perpetrators of violent crimes at sporting events.

The rewards would be funded by major California-based sports franchises, which would be required to donate $10,000 each annually.

If there are no violent acts reported during the year, the teams won’t have to pay, Gatto said, adding that the move would hopefully lead sports teams to beef up security so they don’t have to contribute to the fund.

A reward would likely help get witnesses to report what they saw, he added.

“These are crimes that are very much susceptible to needing the public to come forward,” Gatto said.

The measure would also require sports venues to clearly post a number that fans can text to discreetly report people who are getting unruly.

Gatto said he hopes his measure will lead to a decrease in violence at sporting events, much like similar legislation did in England at soccer games.

“There are many things worth fighting for — your country, a cause, your family — but the color of a jersey just isn’t one of them,” he said. 


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