NYC passes law to crack down on rowdy fans

Updated: November 16, 2005, 6:45 PM ET
Associated Press

NEW YORK -- Overzealous sports fans could face up to $25,000 in fines under a law passed Wednesday by the New York City Council to crack down on rowdy spectators.

New York City already is known for enforcing the nation's toughest penalties for fans who run onto a playing field or floor.

City Councilman Peter Vallone Jr., who authored the city's strict 2003 law against spectators running amok, came up with the new measure during Game 6 of the AL Championship Series between the Yankees and the Boston Red Sox two years ago.

After umpires reversed a call in the eighth inning, fans threw plastic bottles and other debris onto the field. Announcements were made asking the fans to stop, and when that didn't work, helmeted police marched out and knelt shoulder-to-shoulder along the stands for part of the game.

Red Sox manager Terry Francona said later he almost pulled his players from the field because he was so worried about their safety.

Vallone, who was seated in the stands next to Mayor Michael Bloomberg, said he had to dodge the debris.

"It was a potentially dangerous situation," he said.

The new measure, which is an amendment to his earlier law, passed without opposition and takes effect when Bloomberg signs it. Bloomberg spokesman Ed Skyler said the mayor supports the change, which is backed by Major League Baseball and the U.S. Tennis Association, which stages the U.S. Open.

New York's campaign to stop unruly spectators is being presented as a model for other cities. Last winter, the New York Mets gave a presentation to other clubs urging them to call on local legislators to study the law.

"This law is going to help us maintain order at sporting events and protect people on the field," said Rob Kasdon, vice president of security for the Mets.

Kasdon said the law was authored carefully so as not to stifle sporting traditions like tossing a baseball back onto the field after a home run or flinging hats onto the ice after a hat trick in hockey.

The district attorney in Queens, where the Mets play at Shea Stadium and the U.S. Open takes place in Flushing Meadows, also supports Vallone's campaign against disruptive sports fans. District Attorney Richard Brown made the first prosecution under the law last summer against a New Jersey man who ran onto the field during a Mets game.

The man, John McCarthy, was sentenced to eight weekends in jail, probation and $2,000 in fines.


Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press