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Dodgers

Dodgers Dugout: Security remains a concern for some fans at Dodger Stadium

Arizona Diamondbacks v Los Angeles Dodgers
Dodger Stadium
(John McCoy / Getty Images)

Hi, and welcome to another edition of Dodgers Dugout.

My name is Houston Mitchell and that was a wacky opening weekend.

Safety concerns

You can’t draw any fair conclusions on the team based on four games, so let’s set aside the opening series against Arizona and look at a different issue.

In case you missed it, after Friday’s loss to the Diamondbacks, there was an altercation in the Dodger Stadium parking lot. Rafael Reyna ended up in the hospital after apparently getting into a verbal dispute with another man that turned physical. Reyna was seriously injured when he fell to the ground after being punched once, authorities said. The injured man was transported to a local hospital and, according to his wife, was on life support Sunday afternoon with a fractured skull.

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At the time I am writing this, no arrests have been made, the cause of the fight remains under investigation and it is not known whether the game was a factor in the fight.

Reyna was walking through the parking lot on the phone with his wife, Christel Reyna, sometime after midnight when a man confronted him. Christel told CBSLA she could hear someone yelling at her husband, and then heard a loud thump.

She remained on the phone as strangers tended to Reyna. She could hear one of them saying that he was bleeding.

The Dodgers released a statement, saying, “Last night, an altercation occurred suddenly between two men who were leaving the stadium.

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“One of the men was injured as a result of the altercation. A witness immediately reported the incident to stadium personnel, and emergency medical technicians were promptly dispatched to provide medical assistance at the scene. The matter is now being investigated by the Los Angeles Police Department, and the Dodgers are cooperating fully with the investigation.”

The important thing here is that Reyna make a full recovery. What I am going to talk about next does not specifically apply to what happened to Reyna. Here’s the problem the Dodgers have: A lot of people feel unsafe going to Dodger Stadium. I know people who won’t go to games because of safety concerns.

This night, there was video of a fight inside Dodger Stadium posted on social media. And it’s not just that night, you can find several incidences of fights at Dodger Stadium on social media. And, if you go to a game wearing anything that identifies you as a fan of the opposing team, then you more than likely will be harassed verbally (not good-natured ribbing, but some vile stuff) or have stuff thrown at you.

Then, there’s the often slow response time of personnel to stop the fights. I’ve been to games and seen fights break out, and it takes a while for security to get there. The ushers can’t do much to break up the fights. And it’s not that I think security is purposely taking its time, there just isn’t enough of security to do the job properly.

Full disclosure: My wife and I were being harassed by two guys a few seasons ago. They wouldn’t stop. I reported it to an usher, who alerted security. Their response: to move my wife and I to worse seats. Which made no sense to me. If someone breaks into my house and I call the police, they don’t tell me to move to a new house, they go after the burglars. I refused, and security eventually made the two men move to a different section. I wrote a letter to the Dodgers, and to their credit, they took care of the situation to my satisfaction and I find the ushers and security I have talked to since then to be extremely helpful.

And you can bet when there’s a fight, alcohol is involved. Some fans show up to Dodger Stadium already intoxicated. They try to limit alcohol sales in the stadium, but it’s comically easy to get around those rules if you really want to. It’s harder to buy more than two beers at Chuck E. Cheese than it is at Dodger Stadium. Plus, it remains easy to sneak stuff into the stadium if you want.

Also, the Dodger Stadium parking lot is massive. Unless you want to call out the National Guard for every game, I don’t see a way to provide total security for an area that large. It can take 15 minutes just to walk to your car, dodging traffic in spots along the way.

What is the answer? I have no idea.

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It’s easy to blame the Dodgers for all this, but I’m sure they want to solve this. After all, incidents like what happened to Reyna cast the Dodgers in a bad light. Should the Dodgers have more security? I think they should, but there is more security now compared to a few seasons ago, and it doesn’t prevent fights from happening.

Should they come up with a better way to limit alcohol sales? Yes. Something’s wrong when Chuck E. Cheese’s alcohol buying system works better than yours.

There are lookout towers in the Dodger Stadium parking lot, but I rarely see anyone in all of those towers. I would have every one of those manned after games, and I would have security personnel in every parking area. That way, when voices start being raised before a fight, there’s someone very close to intervene.

Also, if I were running the Dodgers, I’d hold a town hall meeting at Dodger Stadium. Pick a Saturday when the team is on the road and ask people to come to the Stadium at a certain time. Set up something on the field with the proper Dodger personnel there to talk about the current security plans, and take questions and comments from the fans in attendance. Let the fans feel like they are part of the solution instead of part of the problem.

It’s impossible to guarantee 100% safety at events like these. It’s impossible to guarantee there will be no fights in the stands. But the Dodgers need to not just let incidents like these go by quietly. They need to step up and do all they can to reassure fans. Because they may not want to believe this, but a lot of fans feel wary to go to games, and that shouldn’t be the case.

If you have an idea on how to improve security at games, please click here and email me. I will print selected ones in a future newsletter.

Ask Ross Porter

Ross Porter will once again answer reader questions this season. All you have to do is email me your question at houston.mitchell@latimes.com. I will forward the email on to Ross, and he will answer two or three each week. The first Ask Ross Porter will be Friday and it will run once a week after that.

TV schedule

KTLA will televise 10 Dodger games during the season. They are:

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Tuesday vs. San Francisco, 7 p.m.

Friday, April 12, vs. Milwaukee, 7 p.m.

Thursday, April 18, at Milwaukee, 5 p.m.

Wednesday, April 24, at Chicago Cubs, 5 p.m.

Saturday, April 27, vs. Pittsburgh, 6 p.m.

Saturday, May 11, vs. Washington, 6 p.m.

Monday, May 27, vs. New York Mets, 5 p.m.

Thursday, May 30, vs. New York Mets, 6:30 p.m.

Saturday, June 1, vs. Philadelphia, 7 p.m.

Saturday, June 15, vs. Chicago Cubs, 6 p.m.

Up next

Today: San Francisco (*Drew Pomeranz) at Dodgers (*Julio Urias), 7 p.m.

Tuesday: San Francisco (*Madison Bumgarner) at Dodgers (*Hyun-Jin Ryu), 7 p.m. (This game will be on KTLA Ch. 5)

Wednesday: San Francisco (*Derek Holland) at Dodgers (Ross Stripling), 7 p.m.

*-Left-hander

And finally

The Dodgers hit eight homers on opening day. Click here to watch.

Have a comment or something you’d like to see in a future Dodgers newsletter? Email me and follow me on Twitter: @latimeshouston.


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