Lawmaker wants stiffer penalties for stadium fights

SACRAMENTO - Assemblyman Mike Gatto (D-Los Angeles) announced legislation this week that he said would deter fighting at sporting events.In addition to sentencing enhancements for fighting at sporting events, Gatto wants to create a fund, paid into by California's major sports franchises, that would pay for rewards in certain instances. "I know a lot of parents who are afraid to take their kids to a ballgame," Gatto said. "That's not the California I know." Since the deadline for introducing bills in the 2011 legislative session has passed, Gatto said he has not decided whether to insert his proposals into the provisions of an existing bill, or to get his bill heard as part of a special session later this year. Gatto said he will ask the Assembly's Arts, Entertainment, Sports, Tourism and Internet Media Committee, on which he sits, to convene a special proceeding to vet his proposal and hear testimony from sports security experts, law enforcement and others. Gatto's proposals come on the heels of recent assaults at California sporting events. Bryan Stow, a paramedic and father of two, was attacked from behind in the Dodger Stadium parking lot on March 31, and is in a medically induced coma because of the extensive brain damage he suffered. This past weekend, two men were shot during a game at Candlestick Park between the San Francisco 49ers and Oakland Raiders. A man was also beaten in a stadium bathroom, leaving the victim unconscious. "There are many things worth fighting for," said Gatto. "The fact that someone wore a rival sports franchise's jersey to a game isn't one of them."

********** Published: August 25, 2011 - Volume 10 - Issue 19