Ravens intercepting disruptive fans, too Credo offers guidelines for behavior at stadium

November 28, 1998|By Eduardo A. Encina | Eduardo A. Encina,SUN STAFF

Towson resident Jerry Turner and his sons have watched the Ravens play in the new stadium. But his daughter, Maria, 18, has been reluctant to go because of an unfortunate experience with rowdy spectators at Memorial Stadium.

When Turner's daughter came to her first professional football -- game, she was doused in beer by a bunch of drunken fans and vowed never to return.

Experiences like hers led the franchise to adopt the Fan Credo, a list of rules and expectations for conduct in the downtown stadium. The credo was put together to address fans' complaints about incidents during the Ravens' two years at Memorial Stadium, team officials said.

"I am happy to hear that they are doing something about it," said Turner, 63. "At Memorial, you really had to worry about it, and it disrupted your enjoyment."

David Barber, 35, is another fan who seemed pleased to see the team stand up to disruptive people.

"I think it's good," said Barber, of Annapolis. "We are adults and we should act like adults and respect each other."

The credo was the idea of David Modell, the Ravens' vice president of communications, as a way to assure fans that coming to the game can still be a family experience.

"Whether a fan buys a $250 club seat or a $20 upper-deck end zone seat, they have both given up something to come to the game," Modell said. "We want to give them the best family sports entertainment experience possible."

The Ravens credo was conceived as a mutual agreement between fans and the team and was sent to all season-ticket holders during the summer.

Modell said that fans "hurling obscenities, acting abusive toward fellow fans, or egregiously being offensive in a way that disrupts a fan's enjoyment of the game," are to be kicked out.

When fans are ejected from the stadium, a second offense later in the season could cost them their tickets. The most unruly fans are turned over to police for arrest, depending on the infraction.

"Normally we average two to three arrests per game and on average 25-30 ejections per game," said Chuck Cusick, Ravens facility manager. Most of the incidents have been alcohol-related.

To handle security on game days, the team contracts with S.A.F.E. Management, which employs 750 ushers, ticket takers and other staff members.

"At the beginning of the year, we anticipated that there would be more responsibility for a new facility," said Jim McIntyre, president of S.A.F.E.

But the firm has "found evidence to the contrary," he said.

"When you think about it, anytime you put 69,000 people in one place there are going to be scattered places where there are problems," McIntyre said.

If people are ejected, their tickets are filed so that the section can be checked during future games.

Two or three ushers take care of around 50 fans. When complaints are made, S.A.F.E officials said, the ushers know to step in.

"We'll go up and give the person a warning and tell them about the policy," said S.A.F.E. level manager Wrae Wene. "We are working hand in hand with the Ravens on this, but we also want to give fans every possible way to stay.

"But once somebody has been given fair warning, we will coordinate with the police and our supervisors and take everything on a case-by-case basis."

If necessary, the wrongdoers are turned over to police for arrest and lockup in the stadium's holding facility.

So although Memorial Stadium was referred to as "The Largest Outdoor Insane Asylum," the Ravens and their contractors have been intent on setting a more courteous tone.

"We need to have a climate and atmosphere so that a family, ages 8 to 80, feels like this is a nice place to watch a football game," Wene said.

Pub Date: 11/28/98

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