Cuba Gooding Jr. climbs the glass at Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Final at Staples… (Wally Skalij / Los Angeles…)
Two years after taking the first tentative steps toward establishing common guidelines for fan behavior at local sports events, Los Angeles sports, government and law enforcement officials are scheduled Monday to announce the adoption of a uniform Southern California Fan Code of Conduct. The 10-point code, intended to promote fans' enjoyment and safety, will be applied at every major pro and college venue in the area.
Every professional sports league has a fan code of conduct and teams have their own policies, and the new Southern California code will not replace those. The united effort spearheaded by the Los Angeles Sports Council, however, will provide consistency by focusing on key principles that will be in effect at every venue. The code will be publicized in various ways, perhaps including public service announcements featuring athletes and celebrities.
"When you have competitors for the same business like the Coliseum and the Rose Bowl and you have traditional rivals like UCLA and USC or the Angels and the Dodgers, it's not easy to get them all behind the same thing and this did happen in this case," said David Simon, president of the L.A. Sports Council.
Representatives of the Dodgers, Angels, USC, UCLA, the Coliseum, Tournament of Roses, Santa Anita and AEG — which owns Staples Center and the Home Depot Center — are among those expected to appear at a downtown news conference Monday. L.A. County Sheriff Lee Baca, Police Chief Charlie Beck, and L.A. County Supervisors Don Knabe and Zev Yaroslavsky are also scheduled to attend.
"I think it shows that the teams and the venues really do care about this," Simon said. "Everybody thinks that this is something that can have legs if we all get behind it."
The code addresses security and safety issues but also urges fans to refrain from acts that hurt comfort. Violators could be subject to ejection or arrest.
"I think this is important because it now makes a statement, I believe, for all Southern California venues that if this type of behavior takes place, it's not going to be tolerated or accepted anywhere," said Lee Zeidman, general manager of Staples Center.
Simon traced the origin of the effort to a conversation between officials of the Rose Bowl and UCLA about standardizing guidelines for fan behavior. They contacted him and he eventually organized a summit in June 2011 that brought together officials of teams, venues and local law enforcement agencies to discuss their experiences.
From that meeting was born a Fan Behavior Task Force, which devised the code after Simon plowed through other codes and was struck by the use of mind-numbing legalese.
"The thought was if we can come up with something that's simple maybe that would be a better way to expose it," Simon said, "and maybe we can get fans to embrace it and gradually, over time, change people's behavior and lead to a better fan experience for everybody."
Pat Haden, USC's athletic director, said in a statement the code "reinforces the commitment all of us have to provide spectators with memorable and enjoyable experiences. It also reinforces the zero tolerance policy we have at USC regarding disruptive fan behavior."
Dodgers President Stan Kasten said his team is "pleased to join our industry colleagues, civic leaders and law enforcement in taking steps to ensure that our fans can attend games in safety and comfort."
A spokeswoman for the L.A. County Probation Department said that department will provide probation officers at each site at the request of the teams and venues to work with police, sheriffs and private security to ensure fans abide by the code.
The Fan Behavior Task Force will monitor the effectiveness of the code. Zeidman said unity and sharing information will be crucial.
"A lot of these fans cross over. A football fan is going to be a hockey fan. A basketball fan is going to be a baseball fan. So you're seeing that the 20 million or so people who attend these venues that are part of this Code of Conduct, those fans transverse all of our venues," he said.
"So we're just reinforcing that what you do at the Rose Bowl, for instance, is not going to go unnoticed to what takes place at Staples Center. Or what you do at the Home Depot Center at a Galaxy game as it relates to disruptive behavior. We're going to know about it at the Rose Bowl. We're going to know about it at Staples Center or at Dodger Stadium. So there's going to be a sharing of all these incidents and there's going to be a sharing of best practices so people will know that there are not going to be venues where you can get away with certain things because we're all going to subscribe to this."