Democratic assemblyman Mike Gatto plans to reintroduce a bill to stop the growing trend of fan violence at sporting events after the assembly Public Safety Committee shelved the bill this afternoon.
Earlier this year the NBC Bay Area Investigative Unit exposed problems at sporting venues throughout California, and the issues caught the attention of state lawmakers. The proposed bill, AB 2464, calls for greater punishments for anyone caught committing violent acts at sporting events. It would create a ban list that would prevent these people from attending games in the future.
Today lawmakers heard from Manuel Austin Jr., the Los Gatos resident at the center of our investigation, who was a victim of fan violence at Candlestick Park late last year. His family went to the 49ers Steelers game on December 19, but Austin never saw the game. A verbal exchange lead to a pregame fight that left him with a concussion, four missing teeth and a black eye.
“The fans are not gladiators,” Austin said, “they should not be fighting in the stands. That’s not the venue, that’s not the place.”
Assemblyman Gatto wants a new law to punish the attackers, which would return a family culture to sports venues in the state.
“I know a lot of families who are just afraid to take their kids to a ballgame and that’s not the state I grew up in and that’s not the state I want to live in,” Gatto said. “The current system does not work. Right now someone gets into a fight at a game, chances are he goes into the drunk tank and then he’s let off with a slap on the wrist.”
Assemblyman Gatto’s proposal would require all teams to post signs encouraging fans to report incidents. It would also create a black list banning convicted violent offenders at sports venues from attending future sporting events.
“I hope something good can come out of this so we can go to games, athletic activity” Austin said. “We need to have a safe venue for people to go and experience athletic competition and enjoy it.”