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Beer kegs banned in RayJay parking lots

TAMPA — Next time you head to a football game at Raymond James Stadium, leave the keg, the profanity and the boorish behavior at home.

Large vessels of alcohol will be banned from Tampa Sports Authority parking lots for both University of South Florida and Tampa Bay Buccaneers games, officials announced Friday night.

Tap a keg there, and it will be confiscated.

"They make the rule and we enforce it," Tampa police spokeswoman Andrea Davis said. The sports authority lots affected by the new policy are Lots 1 through 10 and A, B, C and D.

And in response to drunken, loutish and even threatening fan conduct at the USF-Kansas game on Sept. 12, the sports authority announced a series of new or enhanced initiatives for Bulls games. The stadium will:

• Increase security inside and outside the stadium.

• Open parking lots no more than four hours prior to kickoff to give fans less of a chance to drink too much.

• Turn away intoxicated fans at the gate.

• Eject fans who abuse intoxicants or use profanity or offensive language.

• Require ID for everyone trying to buy alcohol at games. The current policy requires ID for fans who look 30 or younger.

• Revoke ticket privileges for anyone — single-game ticket holders, season ticket holders or students — ejected from or arrested at a game. And students will face further discipline from USF.

• Increase the in-stadium promotions of its text message service (813-277-6501) and its telephone number (813-350-6501) where fans can report unruly behavior in the stands.

Most fans are great, but "we had some issues, obviously, at the Kansas game," said Mickey Farrell, the sports authority's director of operations.

At that game, Tampa police said, 63 fans were ejected and another 14 were arrested.

By comparison, two days later, only 16 fans were ejected and four were arrested from the Bucs' home game with the Atlanta Falcons.

Half those arrested at the Kansas game faced charges of under-aged possession of alcohol, Davis said. Others were booked on charges that included disorderly conduct, possession of marijuana, felony battery on a law enforcement officer and, in one case, carrying a concealed firearm.

Officers working the game said several factors appeared to contribute to the coarse behavior: it was a Friday night game with late start, an unusually large crowd, a nationally ranked opponent and a lot of inexperienced drinkers.

Several Kansas fans said the abuse literally drove them from their seats.

Walking into the stadium with her husband and grown daughter, Liz Williams wore her "Kansas Mom" T-shirt.

It might as well have been a bull's-eye.

"It started when we got to the parking lot," said Williams, 51, who lives in Ocala and works as an administrative assistant for a defense contractor. "People came running up to us telling us we didn't belong there. We needed to go the f--- home. Kansas s----. All kinds of verbal assaults."

In Section 338, where the Williams family overlooked the 10-yard line, they were pelted with beer, wadded up paper and a steady bombardment of four-letter words.

They left with 12 minutes to go in the fourth quarter.

"When USF went ahead in the score, people telling us we needed to go home or they were going to kick our a----," Williams said. "We were afraid that if we stayed, regardless of how the game turned out, whether we won or we lost, there would be trouble. And we didn't want to take the chance."

Dr. Steven Segraves of Overland Park, Kansas, wrote to USF administrators to say three drunks in USF gear pushed around his 16-year-old son in a stadium men's room. As Segraves and his son were leaving in the third quarter, a shirtless, intoxicated USF fan jabbed a finger in his face and challenged him to fight.

Kansas grad Brent Kassing of Winter Park said part of the problem was all the drinking in the parking lots. Approaching his assigned gate meant walking his 4- and 9-year-old daughters past two "giant beer bongs."

"It was mass chaos as you were walking into the gate," said Kassing, 39, who works as a consultant for the energy industry.

Friday night's announcement followed meetings involving the sports authority, USF, the Bucs, local law enforcement agencies, private security companies and the stadium's concessionaire.

The ban on kegs is consistent with existing policies at some other stadiums.

At the University of Florida, for example, open containers are prohibited in and around Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. At Dolphin Stadium, where the University of Miami plays, officials warn fans they will confiscate any keg found a tailgate party.

In an e-mail to one Kansas fan who complained of "vile behavior" at the hands of a "drunken USF mob," one administrator promised to take action.

"I apologize and sincerely regret that you and your family were subjected to such nonsense," executive associate athletic director Bill McGillis wrote. "Believe me: I and many others at the university are deeply disappointed with the behavior you described, and we intend to do something about it."

Richard Danielson can be reached at danielson@sptimes.com or (813) 269-5311.

Beer kegs banned in RayJay parking lots 09/19/08 [Last modified: Monday, September 22, 2008 11:27am]
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