Center for Problem-Oriented Policing

Summary of Responses to Spectator Violence in Stadiums

Response No. Response How It Works Works Best If... Considerations
1 Creating access barriers Prevents fans from interfering with performances and protects both performers and spectators cannot easily overcome barriers The barriers should not reduce visibility or cause safety hazardsthey can become death traps if a stampede or similar event occurs, so barriers should be constructed to give way safely under extreme pressure
2 Providing adequate facilities and proper placement Reduces long lines and crowding ...facilities are equally accessible to all spectators Reducing beverage lines could increase alcohol consumption
3 Strategically placing stages, sound equipment, and screens Helps to break up larger crowds and maintain seating assignments ...spectators can easily view the stages and screens from their assigned seats More sound systems may increase volume levels and noise-related frustrations
4 Providing adequate and nearby parking Reduces opportunities to engage in violent behaviors ...multiple entry and exit points exist Large parking areas provide opportunities for car theft and vandalism. They also create traffic jams and the possibility of conflicts due to frustration at not being able to enter or exit quickly
5 Posting signs Conveys information to spectators to maintain safety and facilitate movement and activities throughout the stadium ...the signs are clearly visible above the crowd but are out of vandals' reach You may need to have signs printed in other languages, depending on spectator demographics
6 Changing venues for "high-risk" events Creates a "neutral" environment and reduces tensions between fans and away teams who cannot get to the alternative venue can watch the event on television Event promoters may lose money if residents near the alternative venue are less interested in attending the event; it does not help to prevent post-event celebrations outside the stadium
7 Establishing processing and holding areas for spectators who are arrested or refuse to leave the premises Provides a place to isolate violent spectators from the rest of the crowd ...other crowd members cannot see or access the areas You must make arrangements to transfer the spectators to the local jail or courthouse without disrupting the event
8 Redesigning stadium features that facilitate violence Shields possible targets of spectator aggression ...spectator aggression is concentrated in particular places in the stadium Major renovations can be costly, and owners may not want to invest their resources or shut down their venue to allow these changes
9 Providing sectioned and personal seating Helps to break crowds down into smaller and more-manageable groups, reducing the crowding commonly associated with festival seating are sold for each individual seat, and ushers can guide spectators to the appropriate seats to avoid disputes This can reduce the venue's overall capacity and result in revenue loss
10 Restricting alcohol sales Reduces intoxication-related violence ...staff are trained to recognize signs of intoxication Alcohol sales generate revenue, so the venue may have to raise prices to compensate for a decrease in sales; this increases spectators' incentive to arrive intoxicated or to smuggle alcohol into the event
11 Removing disruptive spectators Limits the harm that results from their action and prevents the further instigation of other spectators ...police target only those engaged in disruptive behaviors Removing spectators may require use of force and can instigate other spectators
12 Refusing entrance to known troublemakers and intoxicated spectators Reduces the pool of people willing to engage in violent behavior at the event ...staff can recognize those who have been banned and the signs of intoxication Some fans may not show overt signs of intoxication, despite having consumed large quantities of alcohol
13 Screening items brought into the stadium Prevents spectators from bringing in items that they can use as weapons during altercations ...staff can quickly search spectators without delaying entry to the stadium Female staff may be needed to search female spectators; metal detectors are expensive
14 Reducing situational instigators of violence Eliminates situational factors, both physical and social, that can encourage spectator violence ...police are familiar with a particular stadium's "fan culture" and can identify the emergence of new instigators It is difficult to control temperatures in open-air stadiums and noise levels in enclosed arenas
15 Controlling the dispersal process Prevents the crowding that results as spectators leave the stadium ...after-event activities attract some, but not all, spectators After-event activities will require additional staffing or personnel hours
16 Requiring permits and adherence to entertainment ordinances Notifies authorities in advance of upcoming events, sets restrictions and standards for the events, and holds hosts accountable for meeting basic requirements ordinances governing stadium events are already in place The city council may have to pass new legislation
17 Advertising penalties for violent behavior Deters spectator-related violence ...laws and sanctions for such behaviors are in place, and spectators view the sanctions as credible Penalties must be severe enough to offset the perceived benefits of engaging in violent behavior
18 Encouraging marketing to age- and gender-diverse crowds Reduces the pool of young adult males ...the event can be marketed as "family friendly" This may decrease the popularity of some events. If the family groups are in a completely different part of the stadium from where the young men are, then the advantages are lost. Comingling within the venue may be necessary
19 Establishing an effective command post Aids prevention efforts by facilitating information flow ...representatives from all agencies are stationed at the post One agency will need to lead the communication efforts
20 Training staff to respond appropriately Prepares staff to deal with the complexities of differing crowd dynamics ...experienced personnel are on-hand to help those with less crowd experience Some departments may require more- extensive training
21 Using different security "levels" Reduces the need for police personnel ...stadium staff members remain consistent from event to event Police must be available to provide backup if other personnel cannot effectively handle spectator concerns or conflicts
22 Increasing the visibility of security Provides a visual deterrent to those considering violent behavior ...uniformed personnel are placed at strategic points throughout the stadium Too many uniformed officers may create a hostile atmosphere
23 Incorporating technology Improves surveillance and can eliminate the need for deadly force can monitor cameras from a centralized location Use of nonlethal weapons requires specialized training and can pose safety risks
Responses With Limited Effectiveness
24 Relying on reactive tactics Can limit the extent of injury/damage after violence occurs ...violence is an immediate concern It does little to prevent future violence
25 Presenting extreme shows of force Demonstrates the consequences of behaving violently ...the chances of violence are high and well known It can increase negative spectator reaction, which may include violence
26 Segregating fans Separates fans of opposing teams equal number of fans will be present for both teams This may draw attention to the opposing team's supporters, making them more likely to become targets of violence