We are a week removed from an ugly fight after the San Francisco 49ers home opener, and already politicians have jumped in the fray. Two members of the Santa Clara City Council have asked that time be set aside at Tuesday's city council meeting to discuss options for addressing "health and safety issues at the stadium", according to the San Francisco Chronicle.
Councilwomen Lisa Gillmor, Teresa O'Neill and Debi Davis have all raised concerns, and will look for some kind of changes. It sounds like they want to consider things like banning alcohol sales in the second half (sales currently run through the third quarter), and increasing the number of police at the stadium.
It is safe to say that some people on the city council had not attended a football game prior to Levi's Stadium opening. O'Neill told the Chronicle that "she had no idea before Levi's opened that there was so much drinking outside stadiums." She mentioned the municipal code preventing drinking in parking lots.
Pre-game drinking is not something new, and of course, is the inspiration for the phrase "pre-gaming." Police and security personnel are in the parking lots at virtually all sporting events across the country, and they generally don't push too hard on the drinking. I've heard instances of police telling people to put drinks in red solo cops, or otherwise keep it moderately hidden. That really is part of the culture that has developed.
I understand politicians wanting to do something, but banning second-half sales is probably not the best solution. It is one option, but people will find ways to drink. One potentially easy solution is greater prevention of post-game drinking. At that point, the game is over and it is time to head home. It is not easy, and like anything, even with more cops, you are not going to find every problem.
And that is part of the issue. How many solutions are window-dressing to clean up a PR mess, and how many will actually make a significant difference. I do think cutting back on alcohol sales would help a little bit, but there are some trouble-makers that will find ways to act like morons. I personally think more uniformed cops would be of some help. They won't see everything, but more cops spread around the parking lot might help get them to the scene of fights quicker than we saw last Monday. And a visible presence of officers in uniform might cause a potential trouble-maker to think twice. I don't think there are any perfect solutions, but it is one to consider.