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Can a team really ban a fan from a ballpark for life?

Jun 4, 2012, 6:02 PM EST

In the post about the guy who rushed the field in the wake of the Santana no-hitter, we learn — as we often learn in such cases — that the fan had been “banned for life” from Citi  Field. Which led to a question from commenter number42is1:

Can someone help me understand how these “banned for life” things are upheld? I worked with someone that did the same thing and was banned for life but he goes to games all the time.

Later, I was asked this on Twitter:

Good questions! And ones I often wondered about myself.

My guess: it’s not really enforceable.  Oh, sure, your name is probably placed in the team’s computer system and if you try to buy tickets from the team or at MLB.com you’re gonna get flagged. But we all go to games where someone else buys the tickets, right?  It’s not like they have a meeting before the gates open 81 times a year and ask the gate agents to memorize your picture and keep an eye out for you.  You could go if you want. Just keep cool and don’t do anything else dumb.

Commenters (and Nick on Twitter again) later added the point that, if you are caught at the park after being banned, you could be subject to criminal trespassing charges so, yes, there are consequences if you try to beat the ban.  But again, they gotta catch you first and that seems unlikely as long as you behave yourself. And as long as your previous antics didn’t make you so famous and recognizable that someone spots you and rats you out.

But the teams probably have a better reason than punishment for announcing such lifetime bans: deterrence. The not unreasonable hope that, if people believe being a jerk at the park will lead to something as scary sounding as a “lifetime ban,” they may refrain from such jerky behavior. Keeping in mind that those who need such deterrence aren’t the types who think through the enforceability of such beasts like we’re doing here.

Other places with lifetime bans: casinos. But I have this feeling they’re another kettle of fish. They have so many cameras everyplace that they probably do know who you are and see you when you walk in.  I saw “Ocean’s 11,” so my knowledge of this is just as thorough as my medical knowledge in the Niese post.

It’s serious business. Don’t mess with ‘em.

  1. Ben - Jun 4, 2012 at 6:11 PM

    Given how heavily tax-payer funded ballparks are, it’s kind of bullsh*t that you can be prosecuted for trespassing. Should be public space.

    (yes, I know I’m being disingenuous. Don’t care.)

    • Ben - Jun 4, 2012 at 6:22 PM

      Or, to put it differently–if I paid for it, I wanna get to run around in it too.

    • DJ MC - Jun 4, 2012 at 10:53 PM

      I think you should test that theory by walking into another public building–say, your local City Hall, or police precinct–and try and go anywhere you want. Report back to us with your results, at least as soon as you can contact someone other than using one phone call for a lawyer.

      (Yes, I know you were being disingenuous. Don’t care ;) )

  2. quizguy66 - Jun 4, 2012 at 6:14 PM

    They’ll know it’s him if he comes in wearing those jorts again.

    -QG

  3. jlovenotjlo - Jun 4, 2012 at 6:22 PM

    Casinos also don’t have to deal with 20-45 thousand people coming in the gates at around the same time and staying for only 3 hours. A Blackjack card counter has to show his face pretty clearly for a long time out in the open and on camera.

    Baseball teams will, presumably, never invest the money in some insane camera technology to actually attempt to enforce these bans. They don’t even pay their interns.

    • davidpom50 - Jun 4, 2012 at 6:36 PM

      Of course they won’t. If this dumbass violates the lifetime ban, it won’t enable him to legally take millions of dollars from the team, like a card counter can from a casino.

    • bigharold - Jun 4, 2012 at 8:10 PM

      “Baseball teams will, presumably, never invest the money in some insane camera technology to actually attempt to enforce these bans.”

      I work in corporate security and the technology of which you speak is out there now. Face recognition is not insane, it works. It’s not terribly expensive, at least as far as MLB teams budgets go, and is already in use in Europe to combat hooligans. It’s not perfect but in fact it works best in arenas and sporting venues because everybody is already required to file in one at a time and now even are required to remove hats. And, I wouldn’t be surprised if MLB is already quietly testing this stuff in select markets now to see how it can be best deployed and develop a policy and best practices. Unfortunately these are the times we live in.

      It wouldn’t be cost effective to put in place the apparatus to combat the occasional dumb ass that runs on the field at baseball games. I don’t even think that the NFL has seen the kind of organic violence that comes with tale-gating that would warrant it. Aside from the natural escalation of aggressive and violent behavior in ball parks and stadiums the real concern is an act of terrorism. Think about the repercussions of one incendiary or explosive device going off in a crowed stadium. More people likely would be hurt by the panic than the device. At some point MLB or the NFL or NBA my well have to take these precautions just to thwart the notion and allay the fears of their fans. Nearly 11 years after September 11th 2001 that might seem far fetched but one more major attack on American soil and you will find this and other technology being overtly used for public security.

      • mybrunoblog - Jun 4, 2012 at 9:00 PM

        I’m with you. Facial recognition technology is the first thing I thought of. I know the NFL has used it at the past few Super Bowls. Only a matter of time before it goes mainstream in athletic venues. If I recall there are some airports that have it in use.

      • cggarb - Jun 5, 2012 at 1:18 PM

        We definitely haven’t freaked out enough in this country. We still have WAY too much freedom. Let’s do what we can to inflame everyone’s fear of the remote, the unlikely, and the implausible.

        Maybe we can even make some dough off it.

      • bigharold - Jun 5, 2012 at 10:00 PM

        “Let’s do what we can to inflame everyone’s fear of the remote, the unlikely, and the implausible.”

        Or, let’s just ignore recent history and hope neither me nor my own are among the poor schmucks that are killed or maimed in the next terrorist event. Because, the only thing that is certain is that there will be yet another attempt.

        The real problem is that to date, like after the World Trade Center was attacked the first time, all the security adjustments and precautions tend to address the LAST event. Within the security realm there is a saying; .. you build a better mouse trap and you get smarter mice. The west has effectively, to a great deal, countered the recent attempts to use jet airliners as tools in terrorist acts. But, if you think that the groups that are determined to strike the west are just going to accept their fate and move on, .. well that would truly seem to be “… unlikely, and the implausible.”, not to mention more than a bit naive.

        Prior to 2001 the notion of a coordinated attack that would hijack jet airliners and fly them into iconic build seemed “… unlikely, and the implausible.”, today not so much. The trick in security is to try to stay ahead of the curve and anticipate. Also, to not ignore the one thing in a million that is an indicator of something amiss.

        It’s not nearly as much about making “some dough off it.” as it is trying to stay ahead of the curve.

  4. clydeserra - Jun 4, 2012 at 6:31 PM

    Dudes name is Rafael Diaz. Does that mean every Rafael Diaz will have to prove they are not him to buy a ticket?

  5. natsattack - Jun 4, 2012 at 6:37 PM

    Pete Rose.

    • ptfu - Jun 4, 2012 at 8:05 PM

      …has attended numerous Reds games, and everyone in GABP has to know what he looks like. Your point?

  6. jwbiii - Jun 4, 2012 at 6:40 PM

    The Cubs have about two dozen security cameras outside the park. They use facial recognition software to identify people not welcome.

    The White Sox have outside security cameras but don’t go to that extent, or at least they don’t claim they do.

    • wetmorepsu12 - Jun 4, 2012 at 7:45 PM

      by “people not welcome,” do you mean steve bartman?

      • jwbiii - Jun 4, 2012 at 7:58 PM

        I don’t think Bartman was banned. More like this guy

        who thought charging Randy Myers was a good idea. He probably didn’t know Myers did karate as part of his conditioning program.

    • derklempner - Jun 4, 2012 at 9:31 PM

      That’s odd. I worked for the Cubs’ front-office IT staff up until last month, and I don’t know anything about any facial recognition software being used at Wrigley Field.

      • jwbiii - Jun 4, 2012 at 11:20 PM

        I was told about this while taking a tour in 2006 by the security director. Maybe it’s a plug’n’pray application that doesn’t require any internal support.

  7. thehawg - Jun 4, 2012 at 8:42 PM

    I have been banned from classier places than Citi Field, I wish my team had more passionate fans.

  8. Walk - Jun 5, 2012 at 5:38 AM

    I can offer some insight here. I was at a concert working security. Fellow got drunk threw a beer container up on stage. He was ejected and banned from the week long event. Myself and a lot of the other officers make a few extra dollars as security working these event, festivals, and concerts. The gentleman was identified and asked to leave, this was a couple days later. He refused, security called the off duty officers over and we escorted him out. No charge. By state law if he did not comply with us we could have charged him with failure to obey, but as for tresspassing our local statute says two warnings, first property owner and than law enforcement, failure to heed the ban after that and its trespassing. That is local statutes here and it is very lax, i expect a larger venue to take a harsher stance on it.

  9. Victor's Secret - Jun 5, 2012 at 9:54 AM

    Don’t worry! Slate’s on this:

    http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/explainer/2012/04/orioles_batman_streaker_can_sports_teams_really_prevent_rule_breakers_from_coming_back_.html

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