Brawls at the San Francisco 49ers’ and Los Angeles Angels’ stadiums over the weekend have left a football fan and a baseball fan hospitalized in serious condition, raising calls for increased safety at major sports venues.
“A small percentage of the fans cause the biggest issues. These are the ones who have lost perspective that this is a sport, a team,” said Kathy Samoun, who founded the nonprofit Fans Against Violence in 2011 after two violent stadium attacks: a shooting at Candlestick Park and a brutal beating outside the Los Angeles Dodgers’ stadium that left San Francisco Giants fan Bryan Stow permanently disabled.
On Sunday, a 49ers fan was hospitalized in serious condition after a bathroom brawl at the new Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara. Police said Monday they were reviewing video of the fight, in which everyone involved appears to be wearing 49ers gear.
Alex Cartagena, who posted the video online after his brother-in-law Justin Sweeney recorded it, said the situation in the men’s restroom was intense.
“One guy was impatient about another guy not taking the stall quickly enough,” he said. “It happened really quickly. Next thing you know, the guy’s lying on the floor.”
Two men, Dario Rebollero, 34, and Amador Rebollero, 27, ran out of the bathroom but were soon arrested on suspicion of felony assault, Santa Clara police spokesman Lt. Kurt Clarke said Monday. Clarke said he did not know whether the suspects have attorneys who could be reached for comment.
49ers spokesman Bob Lange said the team is deeply concerned.
“We were appalled to see the video of the attack on the victims,” he said. “Maintaining the safety of all stadium guests is our highest priority.”
In Southern California, police Monday were looking for three men suspected of brutally beating a man in the parking lot of Angel Stadium of Anaheim after the Angels’ playoff game Friday night. Anaheim police said a 43-year-old former Los Angeles police officer was walking to his car with a relative when they were attacked, apparently for no reason.
The man, whose name has not been released, was hospitalized in critical condition at University of California, Irvine, Medical Center, but he was listed in serious but stable condition Monday and was expected to survive.
There’s no evidence the man’s police past had anything to do with the attack, nor was there any argument inside or outside the stadium, nor any team rivalry that may have prompted it, Dunn said.
“We’re hoping that as he continues to improve we’ll be able to speak with him about what happened,” Dunn said.
The Angels said in a statement that while they are constantly looking to improve security, their response Friday night was almost immediate and the team is satisfied with the reaction. The team will have no more games at the stadium before spring, as the Angels’ season ended with Sunday night’s loss to the Kansas City Royals.
In September, two men were arrested on assault charges after fighting in the stands when the 49ers visited the Arizona Cardinals.
Glendale, Arizona, police Sgt. Jay O’Neill said officers helped stadium security personnel who responded to two separate brawls in adjoining upper deck sections of University of Phoenix Stadium.
Video posted on social media showed several 49ers and Cardinals fans exchanging shoves and then punches. A pile of people then tumbled a few feet down concrete stairs, leaving one man with a cut to his head.
“As the players have gotten more out of control, the fans have gotten more out of control,” said Stanford University emeritus law professor Bill Gould, who studies violence among professional football players.
Gould noted that alcohol often fuels the fights, and that “teams are making so much money off of that alcohol.”
California Assemblyman Mike Gatto, D-Los Angeles, spearheaded a 2012 law that requires major sports venues to post written notices displaying a number to contact security to report a violent act. Colleges are exempt. Gatto said Monday he’s considering bringing back his original proposal that would also have required stadiums to have a “ban list” to keep people convicted of violent crimes out.
“These incidents have risen in recent years,” he said. “There are a lot of things worth fighting for. Your family and your country come to mind. But the color of a jersey or a comment at a game, that is not something to get violent over.”