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CA: Booze rules under review after high-profile fight outside Levi’s Stadium

CA: Booze rules under review after high-profile fight outside Levi’s Stadium

Inside Bay Area News

By Eric Kurhi

September 22, 2015

SANTA CLARA — The brutal, caught-on-camera beating of a man outside Levi’s Stadium last week has led to some city officials calling for an evaluation of alcohol policy, possibly ending booze sales at halftime or not allowing tailgaters to get an early start on partying in the parking lots.

Councilwoman Teresa O’Neill said they will take up the issue at the Tuesday night City Council meeting, and hopes to bring up some potential measures to quell booze-fueled violence at stadium events, particularly San Francisco 49ers football games.

“We want to take a look and see if there are things we can do to make sure all the guests have a really good experience,” she said, “and not have it ruined by the small percentage of people acting badly.”

The latest assault happened around 10:20 p.m. Sept. 14 just outside a parking lot as fans were going back to their cars after the game. A 35-year-old Minnesota Vikings fan was attacked by multiple assailants as a lone security guard tried to fend them off in an incident that was caught on video and quickly went viral.

The Vikings fan and security officer suffered injuries in the brawl that were not consider life-threatening.

Four suspects, identified as 32-year-old Hollister resident Felix Chavira, 33-year-old Hollister resident Juan Arias, 30-year-old San Jose resident Eric Martinez, and an unidentified 17-year-old girl were arrested, police said.

O’Neill said the stadium is “very new” for Santa Clara, and she wants to find out how the new stadium compares to other arenas in terms of violent incidents.

Police Chief Michael Sellers said they make 22 to 30 arrests during 49ers games, and that out of the 70,000 fans who show up to games, only “a tenth of a percent” of them pose a problem. But he was not certain that cutting off sales at halftime will resolve the issue because alcohol is consumed at pre-game tailgating parties before fans even enter the stadium.

O’Neill said existing municipal codes may already apply in these cases, such as a prohibition on drinking in parking lots.

“At one of the first games, people were showing up around 6 a.m. and they were being let in at 7 a.m. because cars were clogging the streets,” she said. “Maybe we should not allow anybody in before 10:30.”

Sellers said alcohol problems stem from individual behavior choices, and he wants to send a strong message that inappropriate behavior will not be tolerated and will result in fast arrests such as those that were made last week.

O’Neill said that while the city acts as the stadium authority, the city attorney will also be consulted to explore all options to curb unruly guests.

Since the 49ers arrived at the new Levi’s Stadium, Santa Clara police have responded to 24 reports of assaults during football games. One case last year involved a man who started a fight in a restroom, leaving one of the two victims with a severe brain injury.

O’Neill said that while no decisions will be made Tuesday, staff will be directed to investigate options if the council wants to pursue the discussion further for possible action.

She added that it’s particularly important with the Super Bowl coming to town.

“We want to make sure that we put on our best face for the world to see,” she said. “We want to make sure that everybody who comes here feels that they’re in a safe environment.”