Another Falling Fan Death at a Ballpark

Posted on August 13, 2013 | in Baseball, Error-Proofing, Safety, Sports | by
turner field fan falls

Yesterday a fan fell 65 feet onto a parking lot at Turner Field and perished.

At yesterday’s baseball game at Turner Field a fan fell from an upper level platform and died. The cause of the fall onto a parking lot surface – lack of sobriety, accident, foul play, poor judgment, rain soaking the walking paths – has not been confirmed.

I’ve written about this subject before. It wasn’t pleasant then and it’s not now.

Teams do all in their power to cram as many spectator seats into as small of a land footprint as possible, stacking upper decks on top of middle tier concourses on top of field level boxes. Walking ramp after walking ramp after walking ramp. Flight of stairs after flight of stairs after flight of stairs.

But as stadiums went through a phase of growing taller with more seats (the capacity trend slows today, as Cinergy Field in Cincinnati and its 53,000 capacity gave way to Great American Ballpark and it’s 42,300 capacity) patrons were forced higher off the ground with steeper stairs to climb. Despite the additional rails, guards, and protections the risk of falling still exists.

The NFL claims that safety is the #1 priority for the league (player safety, that is). However, there are lots of things teams can do to prevent lapses in fan safety, but among extra padding and gates and walls and glass and nets and smaller stadiums, how far will teams go to maximize protection without disrupting the fan experience?

Do you like this post? Give Lean Blitz a follow and a like!
Follow us on Twitter at @LeanBlitz and “like” us on Facebook!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...
TAGS: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

4 Responses to “Another Falling Fan Death at a Ballpark”

  1. Mark Graban says:

    Safety is the number one priority? Hogwash.

    Hospitals also claim safety is their number one priority… but do people’s actions really back that claim?

    • Chad Walters says:

      I was at a presentation last week with a former NFL referee who still serves on a referee evaluation committee of some sort. He reviewed all of the new rule changes regarding player safety, including the ins and outs (or X’s and O’s) of legal and illegal actions as well as their resulting penalties. At the end of the presentation he stated that safety is a greater priority than anything else.

      However I, too, share your sentiment of hogwash.

      If you can’t error-proof, create error resistance. Where error resistance is tough, create a checklist. Where checklists are hard to use or cumbersome, create policy and rules. I think the NFL is clearly of the “create policy and rules” mindset.

  2. Jerry O'Dwyer says:

    I am not from the USA nor am I resident …..but can you tell me how it is possible to pass building regulations or even obtain planning permission if the structures are fundamentally unsafe as you imply? In our country ( Scotland / Britain) I regularly attend large attendance sporting fixtures such as International rugby games and cricket games. Cricket stadiums in the UK are not huge …but international Rugby stadiums are. However …lack of sobriety or not ….you would have to be pretty determined to have a fatal fall in any of the stadiums that I have been inside ie you would have to jump over a barrier . This is because, in the past , at soccer grounds …mass death did occur and so there are regulations now . Is this not the case in the USA ?

    • Chad Walters says:

      Jerry –

      Thank you for your question. I really don’t have a great answer for you. I don’t know how international sports stadiums compare in safety and functionality to those in the US, or how our litigious society impacts our likeliness to act in an unsafe manner or provide stadiums that leave open the possibility of accident by patrons. You bring up a great example of mass stadium deaths due to riots overseas and how the standard for stadium safety and functionality has been raised as a result. Maybe by adding complicated aesthetics to stadiums because we don’t expect stadium riots and safety fixtures/resiliency therefore take a backseat, we’re leaving those safety loopholes for when a single person can get compromised.

      I won’t make any rash judgments about regulations and inspections and whether stadiums pass them or the standards being lax, or state anything about conspiracy theories, but it’s fair to wonder.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Get Lean Blitz in your Inbox!

Subscribe to a daily digest of Lean Blitz posts by clicking here!