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Steve Lopez: Who's to blame for problems at Dodger Stadium?

http://www.latimes.com/media/photo/2011-03/60130507.jpg

“I’m not into the finger-pointing thing,” Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa said Friday morning with his buddy, Dodgers owner Frank McCourt, at his side in a downtown news conference.

Fortunately, I am in the finger-pointing business.

Lopeztalkback McCourt, who suddenly wants to scan license plates and hire everybody but the U.S. Marines and the National Guard to shut down violence and unruly behavior at Dodger Stadium, wouldn’t be in this mess if he’d given a hoot about fan complaints in the past.

Instead, he began this season without a permanent security chief in place, and the severe opening-day beating of a Giants fan on March 31 now has him in full PR swing.

Does McCourt really need ex-LAPD chief Bill Bratton and a New York-based security firm to tell him he’s got a bunch of drunken, unruly fans in the seats, in the parking lot and in the surrounding neighborhood, or did McCourt just figure there was mileage in using Bratton’s name?

Did he really need the beating in the parking lot to make him realize he ought to be working more closely with LAPD Chief Charlie Beck, who now promises a police-state environment at the stadium?

And if Villaraigosa is a guest of McCourt at so many Dodger games, why couldn’t the mayor see the problem himself? Was it because there’s not much violence in the most expensive seats in the park, which the mayor often got for free, or in the luxury boxes?

Beck said McCourt is going to pay the costs of the extra LAPD officers, as if anyone else should bear the responsibility. How long do you give him, though, before McCourt jacks up prices on concessions to cover the costs?

On a related point, McCourt actually said at Friday’s news conference that he’s been working with residents of surrounding neighborhoods on a “regular basis” since 2004 to address their concerns about litter, public urination and drinking on their streets. If that’s so, why do so many residents feel ignored, and why were they telling me earlier this week that their complaints have fallen on deaf ears ever since McCourt upped the parking fee to $15 and drove hooligans into the neighborhoods.

Asked what the Dodgers could do about alcohol-fueled rowdies, McCourt actually said, “I don’t think it’s the sale of beer that’s a problem, per se. It’s the abuse of that privilege.”

Thanks, inspector.

Then why not cut off the spigot a little earlier in the game, and why not do a better job of tossing the obvious drunks out of the park?

Instead, the Dodgers have several promotions on the calendar in which food and beverages will be half price. On the promotion, there’s an asterisk, and you figure that means alcohol will be excluded, right?

Nope.

The asterisk was used as an exclamation, as in “Including alcoholic beverages.”

I kid you not.

At the same news conference, Villaraigosa asked the assailants of the Giants fan to turn themselves in. If that goes well, maybe he can hold a press conference asking tax cheats to pay up and delinquents to immediately return to school.

One last bit of finger-pointing:  Looking at the Dodger lineup, this is a team that might end up driving a lot of people to drink. So can those of you who can’t control yourselves please stay home and punch the television instead of someone’s skull?

We’ve got a minor league businessman running a major league team, and it could be another long season.

-- Steve Lopez

Photo: Frank McCourt. L.A. Times file.

 
Comments () | Archives (93)

Who's to blame is working class thugs.

Tell it like it is, Steve.
You give 'em the truth and they think it's hell.

Thanks, Mr. Lopez, Great work, as usual.

By the way...word on the street is that a number of "casual" Dodger fans are looking at both the Angel's and the Angels' park as a pretty good alternative. Could this be associated with the new security concerns + McCourt drama exhaustion?

I am unhappy that you are saying that someone parking outside the stadium gates is a hooligan.

I park outside the stadium with my son and we walk in along with many other fine people and I treat the neighbors with respect. If they want to live in a more private area then they should not have bought a home outside a large baseball stadium.

I get that there is a huge level of awareness now but the majority of the fans at the stadium are not hooligans, drunkards or criminals. Let's focus on how to encourage good behaviour and keep an eye out for each other. So far, none of the proposed solutions seem to be doing that.

The blame goes to the latino gang members and assorted wanna be tough guys who go to Dodger games and "represent". I was at a Green Bay Packer game last year and they all behave remarkably civil. It was a real contrast with the rude jerks that inhabit Dodger games. Oh, and they park in the local Green Bay neighborhoods and drink before, during and after the game. Its the people that make the difference.

Thank you Steve for presenting the facts sans fluff. A rarity these days.

well said...

Gang injunction at Chavez Ravine

As things grow increasingly worse for McCourt, his latest bromide for alcohol just might be his death rattle as owner. He is one more drunken comment away from Marge Schott territory, and possible forced ownership change.

Has he no shame? Keep them gums flappin', McCourt.

Lol nailed it......the monkeys are in charge, both Dodgers and city

I just to say this...I have lived here all of my life. We used to go to the games as children and we never had all of this fighting until the crowds at the games became predominately Hispanic. Sorry to say it but we all no its the truth!

Thank YOU for laying it out there! I am so embarrassed and ashamed of being an Angeleno when I think about this situation. Frank McCourt bears responsibility if for nothing else, his negligence in providing adequate security. If he as the owner of the enterprise had done all that is reasonable to keep people safe while attending one of his team's games, it may still have happened, but it's unconscionable that he clearly has no interest in or regard for fan safety. Really? No head of security since 2009? In a venue that holds 56,000 people? Where alcohol is sold? And now that this has happened, his organization offers a shamefully paltry $25,000 reward, considering this happened on his property. How about at least ponying up for the reward the $ you saved over the past 2 years by not having a head of security on duty Frank? Or, giving it to the victim and his family? That would be a decent start. And as for Villaraigosa, what a coward.

I would be happy to pay $10 for a small glass of beer (let's say 10-12 oz), pay less for parking, and help contribute to a more positive environment in and around the stadium. However, this should be combined with good security policy and procedures. Each time I have gone there is always a group of people primed for aggressiveness and conflict somewhere nearby. It will take a lot of different things to make the stadium a no-go for threatening behavior. Lopez is right: it comes down to good strategic business decisions that have been missing for years.

McCourt needs to admit he doesn't care.

Wow, A Steve Lopez column I can support. Milagro.

Thanks for calling my wife and three daughters "hooligans" Steve because my
family decided taking a healthy walk to the stadium is worth saving $15. You
are a really classy dude. Maybe the fact that I haven't seen any of these
roaming hooligans walking out of Dodger stadium on foot makes me one in your
mind.

I know you are probably too out of shape to ever actually do that walk to
the stadium yourself and actually find out the facts instead of just
resorting to name calling from behind your computer in your office (although
my three year old daughter and 66 year old father never seemed to have a
problem making the walk), but you might want to actually adhere to the
standards of another organization that used to be synonymous with excellence
before low standards and incompetence ran it into the ground. I wouldn't
bother asking your editor the answer to that question though (if there is
one other than spell check); just go outside and read the sign on the
building.

I'm sure you've sat in all of the sections in Dodger stadium other than just
the field level to have a shred of credibility to your unsupported
allegations. If you weren't such a "classy dude", you might be able to
figure out that the reason security at Dodger games is so bad, is not that
Dodger stadium necessarily has more idiots per capita than other stadia, but
is because of the very low quality of the security personnel and the
complete incompetence of the staff. But again, you would never learn that
writing angry old man diatribes from your computer.

Lopez so shortsigted in your analyses that you should think of running for office. This is the same kind of mental acuity that our current politicians seem to posess. Again, alcohol is not the issue, it's the mentality of the modern Dodger 'fan'. Next you'll suggest banning cars to reduce traffic accidents.

McCourt should have done more before this but you should have started your column by pointing fingers at the fans who are the problem. These problem fans are less than 1% of those who attend games but according to your column you lump all dodger fans into that one category. Beer is 12$ at a game, how many people will go to a game to get drunk at those prices? I have seen dodger security and the police ticket people in the stadium parking lot for tailgating. When was the last you went twenty years ago? tailgating was acceptable then but not now. I have seen security kick people out of a game and it has vastly improved over the last few years, unfortunately it was enough to stop this but when is something senseless like this ever going to be completely stopped. Your outrage should be on the people that have done this.

I for one have had it with the Dodger club ownership. They have taken a historic, respected and time honored professional baseball organization and destroyed it in a matter of a few years. The neglect, corruption and downright greed that exudes from "these people" is enough to make me change my 56 years of allegiance to another ballclub. I used to "bleed Dodger blue" now I am black and blue from the constant beating that takes place when I pay through the nose for parking, tickets and food. No thanks!

LOL. Wow Steve. Funny article. I blame McCrook and who's ever in charge of their security at cesspool ravine. Concentrate most and all of their security assets after the 7th inning to the exits and parking lots. Pretty simple fix.

Mr. Lopez,

Excellent, excellent piece. McCourt is truly the definition of what we used to call a jackass.

Anybody who has been to Dodger Stadium in the past few years has had a moment or two of discomfort, either walking in the parking lot, in the food line, in the rest rooms or sitting in the game. To think that the owner of any business (outside criminal pursuits), which ostensibly caters to families, would have more concern about the beer and concessions he sells to obvious lowlife troublemakers as opposed to the safety of decent patrons is disgusting. A boycott of several games would probably adjust the situation rather quickly.

And I appreciate you pointing out that Villaraigosa, possibly the worst mayor we have ever had, is complicit in this by his typical, complete lack of concern about anything that doesn't affect him personally.

Sincerely,
Pat Skelton
Los Angeles

If the hood rats that beat those poor people got intox. at the game buying beer--that means they spent quite a bit of time patiently standing in long lines.

Not the type expected to go on a wilding spree.

Mr. L. get off your high horse.

If there's evidence that LA's local Lager Louts beat the man show it instead of implying it.

The problem is not the over priced concession stands.

The problem is a parking lot that post game is darker and less patrolled than any alley south of Broadway.

So will Beck's Blue Flood focus on collaring thugs or go for the numbers and net jokers with an open container or a joint?

Any 10 pm gathering of 50,000 largely (I bet 70%) uneducated, inebriated Angelenos in any part of the city will feature at least one assault...If this assualt had occured in any neighborhood with a similar demographic as the Dodger Stadium parking lot.....it would not have been so newsworthy. Drunk, stupid and tattooed are a bad blend.

Of course Lopez completely ignores the FACT that most troublemakers at Dodgers Stadium belong to a specific and easily recognizable demographic. The Dodgers don't need better security...THE UNITED STATES DOES!

McCourt is having all the elements needed in a law suit - security, lighting, and notice of a possible problem, reviewed to see if they could be liable for the guy's injury. Did McCourt put profits ahead of the safety of his customers?

 
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