AT&T Park will see extra security tonight, based on something that happened 11 days and 400 miles removed. As San Francisco and National League West rival Los Angeles begin a three-game series, the savage beating of a Giants fan outside Dodger Stadium on Opening Day remains an open wound.
Bryan Stow, a 42-year-old paramedic from Santa Cruz, had part of his scull removed to relieve brain swelling after being knocked to the ground and kicked by two assailants who remain at large. The incident is the latest in a string of violent acts, including two murders, that has made Dodger Stadium arguably the most dangerous venue in professional sports.
And it's hard to imagine how the Dodgers could look much worse. For the first time since 2005, L.A. opened the season without a full-time head of security. Following the Stow attack, Dodgers owner Frank McCourt indicated publicly that he was satisfied with Dodger Stadium security. McCourt announced that he had hired former L.A. Police Chief William Bratton as a security consultant, but only after enduring the criticism of current L.A.P.D. Chief Charlie Beck, who has vowed increased security at future Dodger home games. "You're going to see a sea of blue, but it's not going to be Dodgers blue. It's going to be L.A.P.D. blue," Beck said last week. "This is going to be a game-changer."
The Dodgers added reward money to a sum that now totals $150,000, but their contribution reportedly came after the Giants had already made their own.
As for what recourse exists for Stow, who is said to be in stable condition, a lawsuit against the Dodgers is plausible. According to AB contributor John Wolohan, an attorney and law professor at Syracuse University, sports organizations have a duty of care regarding the safety of patrons that extends beyond the stadium footprint and into the parking lot. "I've never been to a Dodgers-Giants game, but assuming it's a lot like Red Sox-Yankees, you'd want more security, you'd want a heightened police presence on a game like that anyway," Wolohan says. "The expectation is that there might be problems, so they have a higher duty of care in a rivalry game like this."
Like many teams, the Dodgers currently display a Fan Code of Conduct before every game, and offer permanent signage with a hotline for fans wishing to report bad behavior. But blogger Phil Wallace at LAobserved.com thinks more can be done to strengthen parking lot security. "The Dodgers have a large number of security personnel inside the stadium, but outside the stadium, there's often no one to be found," Wallace wrote last week. "They should look to increase the number of security officers in the parking lots, and even consider moving some people from inside the stadium to the outside once a game ends. There should also be more security cameras so they could identify people like the individuals who were responsible for [the March 31] beating."