Spurred by violence over the weekend, the 49ers on Monday sacked future installments of their annual exhibition game with the Raiders as officials pledged to crack down on drunk and unruly fans at Candlestick Park, limit tailgating and stop alcohol sales late in games.
Jed York, CEO of the 49ers, said the team would ask the NFL, which schedules preseason exhibitions, to indefinitely postpone the yearly preseason game with the Raiders known as the "Battle of the Bay" after two fans were shot and another was badly beaten during Saturday's game between the rivals.
Hoping to limit drunken fans, police promised to set up DUI checkpoints outside the stadium after every 49ers home game this year and to beef up the amount of officers roaming the stadium and parking lot during the games.
In addition, the team will stop selling alcohol in the fourth quarter -- possibly earlier if the crowd is unruly -- and ban tailgating during and after the game and in the early morning.
York said the team would even turn away season ticket holders at the gate if officers think they are ready to start trouble. Acknowledging the need to beef up security, the 49ers conceded that they needed to follow other teams that had already cracked down on unacceptable fan behavior.
"I want to extend an apology to all of you," said Jim Mercurio, the stadium's operations and security chief. "These rules and policies that have to be put in place will affect you, but it's important for the security of you and your family."
The changes announced during a news conference in San Francisco on Monday came two days after the 49ers-Raiders preseason game at Candlestick Park was marred by a slew of violence.
During the game, two men, ages 24 and 20, were shot in separate attacks in the parking lot, while a 26-year-old fan was beaten in a stadium bathroom. All three were hospitalized in fair condition Monday, San Francisco police Chief Greg Suhr said.
Some voiced fears that the attacks were sparked by crazed fans. The father of one of the shooting victims told KGO-TV that his son, a Raiders fan, was shot by a fan wearing a Raiders jersey as he tried to defend a friend being attacked by Raiders fans.
Still, authorities suggested that at least one of the shootings may have been gang-related. Meanwhile, a source familiar with stadium security said Monday that the bathroom beating erupted when a fan punched a man who was guarding a men's bathroom stall for his sister, who wanted to avoid a long line for the women's restroom.
Just how bad was Saturday's game? Police typically make one or two arrests during games, but made 12 on Saturday and staffed 40 percent more officers than usual, Suhr said, even though attendance was down by a third from normal. There were 90 calls for medical service compared with the usual number of about 40, and there were 10 ambulance runs to the hospital, up from the usual two.
"This game was like no other that I can remember, and I've been a Niner fan my whole life," Suhr said. "Nobody could have been prepared for what happened on Saturday night."
Jeffrey Miller, the NFL's chief security officer, convinced the 49ers to replicate a practice used at Chicago Bears games.
"If you're in the tailgate area and it's time for kickoff (to start the game), you either use your ticket and go inside and watch the game or you have to leave," he said. "You could have gang members in parking lots, just staying there; you don't know if you don't take this step."
Starting with Saturday's preseason game against the Houston Texans, fans at Candlestick Park will only be able to tailgate in the parking lot and surrounding streets during the four hours before kickoff, Mercurio said.
A less stringent crackdown will get under way during Raiders games. Oakland Mayor Jean Quan said the city would beef up police presence during at least the next few Raiders home games, perhaps longer, in response to Saturday's attacks.
In 2008, Miller called the Raiders parking lot "probably the most dangerous situation I observed in the league." However, he said that the team has recently made a determined effort to keep fans safer.
Likewise, stadium operators and law enforcement officials at Oakland's O.co Coliseum say that despite the team's rough reputation, the most serious fan violence happened five years ago when a man was shot in the leg in a Coliseum parking lot. Oakland police spokeswoman Sgt. Holly Joshi said there were some minor fights and drunken fans at Raiders games last year and that police don't expect to change much except to put some highly visible officers around the tailgating areas.
"In rivalry games, you're going to need more people there," said Sgt. J.D. Nelson, a veteran of working Raiders games for the Alameda County Sheriff's Office.
While Raiders CEO Amy Trask wouldn't say Monday whether the team supported canceling future 49ers' preseason matchups, she did say: "We look forward to discussing and addressing this issue with them in the same collaborative and cooperative manner we do all issues."
Saturday's violence has raised new concerns in Santa Clara, where the 49ers are planning a new $987 million stadium. The city says the team had agreed two years ago to spend $1.7 million annually to maintain public safety during games. The stadium, scheduled to open in 2015, would include jail-like holding cells, an internal police squad and fiber-optic safety technology.
"Based on the most recent tragedy, I'm sure there will be more discussion on what, if anything, can be done to prevent people from being violent," at the planned stadium, Santa Clara Mayor Jamie Matthews said Monday. He envisioned the stadium as "very family-oriented. Violence doesn't fit into that."
Not everyone is convinced the plan will work.
Santa Clara City Councilwoman Jamie McLeod said she wants a "full and robust public discussion" about security. If the Raiders join the Niners to play in a future Santa Clara stadium, she said, the tragedy that happened over the weekend at Candlestick "is a harbinger of more to come."
Staff writers Lisa Fernandez and Mark Purdy contributed to this report. Contact Mike Rosenberg at firstname.lastname@example.org or 408-920-5705.
Violence sparks changes this season for 49ers games:
Future preseason games with the Raiders will be canceled.
San Francisco police will hold DUI checkpoints after every game.
Fans will only be able to tailgate during the four hours before the game starts.
Vendors will stop selling alcohol in the fourth quarter, possibly earlier if the game is unruly.
Even season ticket holders who look ready to start trouble will be denied entry.
Source: San Francisco officials