The 20 football fans arrested Sunday during the rumble between the Rams and Raiders at Anaheim Stadium represented just another day in the stands wherever the boys in silver and black play, authorities said Monday.
"Every time the Raiders come to town, we beef up security," said Patrick Curran, business manager of the San Diego Chargers. "The Raider fans bring more excitement and more violence than the average crowd."
The fans arrested Sunday all were cited for misdemeanors, mostly disturbing the peace and drunkenness, and released. No serious injuries were reported in the 26 or so fights that broke out, Anaheim Police Sgt. Gerald Stec said.
"Football has nothing to do it," said Jack Faulkner, administrator of football operations for the Los Angeles Rams. "These people come to the stadium looking for a fight."
In the last five years, security has escalated at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum and other Southern California stadiums when the Raiders play, National Football League and police officials said Monday.
On Sunday, the number of security guards and officers was double that of a typical football game in anticipation of rowdy spectators, Stec said. When the two teams met earlier this year, police arrested 22 people and alcohol sales were halted after half-time. Alcohol sales also ceased for some sections of the stadium Sunday.
The two teams have met five times in the past 12 years for regular-season games, and trouble has erupted almost every time, officials said.
"We just don't have the same problems with any other team," Stec said.
Jack Murphy Stadium in San Diego also has added security during Raider games, Curran said. Typically, about 70 extra security guards and police officers monitor the crowd at Chargers-Raiders games. The two teams usually meet once a year in San Diego.
Although home teams, including the Rams, normally pay the cost of increased security, taxpayers in Los Angeles foot the bill for extra police officers at Raider games in the Coliseum, Downing said. The cost can run up to $4,500 per game, according to Los Angeles Police Department figures.
At the Coliseum, alcohol is not sold after the third quarter of Raider games. Stadium officials said they began implementing that rule after a string of problems involving drunken fans and fights about three years ago.
Security also increased by about 25%, averaging 200 security guards and officers at typical Raider games, said Los Angeles Lt. Mike Downing. Among the added security are three spotters on the roof whose only job is to monitor the crowd. More than 100 security guards patrol the parking lot as early as five hours before a football game to quell potential problems.
"The fans have changed radically in the last few years," he said. "We've had to get much more aggressive in monitoring the crowd. We tell our officers to take a zero-tolerance stance. That's the only way to prevent things from getting out of hand."
Downing and others are quick to point out that not all Raider fans are trouble-rousing. About 95% of the fans are peaceful spectators looking for a wholesome Sunday in the ball park, Downing said.
Al LoCasale, executive assistant for the Los Angeles Raiders, defended his fans saying fights are expected any time half of the stadium is filled with people rooting against a home team. Three football teams, the Raiders, the Rams and the Chargers, are at home in Southern California, all within an approximate three-hour drive of each other.
"It's a rarity in pro football to have so many people in attendance who are from the visiting team," LoCasale said. Besides the fact that there are more of them in the stands, Raider fans are not any different from anybody else."
The security problems didn't exist when the Raiders were in Oakland, because the games didn't attract as many visiting team fans, said Raiders spokesmen.
The scuffles didn't reach a noticeable scale until recently, along with increased alcohol consumption and extravagant pregame tailgate parties that include barbecues in the parking lots, Downing said. On Sunday, as many as 10,000 people were amassed in the parking lots before the Rams-Raiders game, Stec said.
"This is where the trouble begins," he said. "The trouble isn't in the last 15 minutes of the game when alcohol vendors are shut down. By then, it's too late."
Faulkner said, "I'm very disappointed. It's not quite fair to the guy who paid $35 to see a football game, now is it?"
* FIGHTING WORDS
Raiders want the fans to leave the hitting to the team. C5