The San Francisco 49ers' swift response to fan violence during a game against the Oakland Raiders may not prevent future outbursts of unruliness but it was a reasonable step toward restoring confidence in stadium security, experts said Tuesday.
Team officials announced on Monday a ban on post-kickoff tailgating, use of post-game DUI checkpoints, and enhanced police presence after two shootings, a beating and fights marred Saturday's preseason game at Candlestick Park.
In addition, the team president said he wanted the NFL to postpone next year's preseason game with the Raiders.
"Doing nothing is not an option," said Steve Adelman, a Scottsdale, Ariz.-based attorney who specializes in venue safety and security. "You have to do something to show your fans, everybody for that matter, that what happened Saturday will hopefully never happen again."
He added, however, that the team can't guarantee that problems won't occur. "What they can do is everything that is reasonably possible to prevent these bad things from re-occurring," Adelman said.
The free-swinging fighting at Saturday's game was witnessed by the mayors of San Francisco and Oakland along with being captured on video and replayed on the Internet.
More than 70 fans were ejected from the stadium, 12 people were arrested and dozens of medical calls were made. Officials said those were unheard of numbers for a typical home game at Candlestick Park.
After the game, two men were wounded in separate parking lot shootings. A third man earlier was beaten unconscious in a bathroom. All were in fair condition. No one was arrested. And police were investigating what prompted the attacks and were trying to identify suspects.
The 49ers team took appropriate action rather than imposing tougher knee-jerk reactions, said Jason Maloni, a senior vice president of Levick Strategic Communications, a Washington, D.C.-based crisis communications firm that works with athletes and sports organizations.
"I think that it's far preferable than taking such draconian measures like raising ticket prices or cutting off serving alcohol after the second quarter at games," Maloni said. "I don't think this is anything more than having genuine intentions for fan safety."
The violence in San Francisco is a reminder of an attack at another rivalry game. San Francisco Giants fan Bryan Stow was severely beaten by two men in Los Angeles Dodgers gear outside Dodger Stadium after the archrivals' season opener nearly five months ago.
Two men charged in the beating have pleaded not guilty. Stow, 42, a Santa Cruz paramedic, suffered severe brain injuries and remains hospitalized in serious condition.
Since the incident, the Dodgers have increased police presence at games, installed more lighting in the stadium parking lot and hired a new security chief, said Josh Rawitch, a team spokesman.
When the 49ers took action, Maloni said, the team helped protect not only its fans but also its business.
"Because if you can't bring your kids to a game because there's violence in the stands or in the parking lot, then the fans - including the most die-hard -- will be content to stay at home and watch the games on their 54-inch flat screen high-definition televisions," he said.