How Safe Are Parking Lots?

Gil Fried, Professor, University of New Haven

Most stadiums, such ad Dodger Stadium, have rules of conduct coming into the facility.

The Bureau of Justice Statistics has indicated that more than 7% of violent attacks occur in parking facilities (Fickes, 2016). Whether tailgating, assaults or other issues, facility managers need to more proactively manage risks in parking lots. There are a number of liability cases where spectators have recovered for their injuries in a parking lot outside a stadium. In a recent case, a San Francisco Giant’s fan was attacked in the parking lot of the Los Angeles Dodgers. The game was a highly spirited opening game of the season between the two rivals. Mr. Stow was viciously attacked after the game when heading towards his car by some intoxicated thugs. The case drew significant media attention and resulted in a $13 million verdict against the Dodgers’ prior owner (Fried, 2015).

Over the past couple years, the number of incidents occurring in stadium and arena parking lots has dramatically increased in the United States. Some recent examples include:

  • In August 2011 two men were shot and wounded in the Candlestick Park parking lot after a preseason night football game (Goldfine, 2011).
  • In 2013, Jonathan Denver, 24, was fatally stabbed in a fight outside AT&T Park in San Francisco after a game between the Giants and the Los Angeles Dodgers (Gomez and Melvin, 2013).
  • In December 2013, in the same parking lot, a man died during a confrontation during the Chiefs’ game against the Denver Broncos. (Associated Press, 2014).
  • Several weeks’ later at least three people were stabbed in a parking lot at the Denver Broncos’ stadium after a night game, allegedly stemming from a fight over a near fender-bender (ESPN 2013).
  • Another fan, was shot in the head in Lot 10 outside AT&T Stadium around an hour and a half after the Dallas Cowboys lost to the New England Patriots. The shooting in 2015 was disturbing for a number of reasons, one being that the shooter was being encouraged by others to shoot (Hensley, 2015).
Tailgating can create both a festive and possibly dangerous environment.

These examples show that fights or confrontations in a parking lot are not so unusual. Whenever there are numerous people moving around, excited or upset about a game’s outcome, possibly intoxicated, and faced with the prospects of waiting for up to an hour or more to exit a parking lot…tempers can be high. That is why any crowd management, risk management, or security plan needs to analyze conditions outside a stadium or arena as much as inside.

Some strategies to help reduce the risk of threats in parking lots include:

  • Using crime prevention through environmental design (CPTED) process to improve the line of sight, remove trees/bushes, buildings and other obstructions that makes it more difficult to see what is going on in the parking lot.
  • Appropriate lighting is needed to minimize dark areas and improve visibility.
  • Training all those who will work in the parking area to serve as eyes and ears to address all violations of policies, interact with fans to make sure they know there is a security presence, spot disturbances and intervene as quickly as possible, monitoring as much at the end of the game as at the start of the game, and watch for vandalism/theft issues as examples.
  • Having enough people patrolling the lots in various vehicles such as on foot, bikes, golf carts, and other vehicles to effectively maneuver around vehicles and people.
  • Have at least one elevated viewing platform for police or security if the lot is large enough to warrant such a structure.
  • Have enough high-resolution CCTV positioned to effectively monitor the parking lot and record any disturbances.
  • Schedule a pre-season meeting with all parties (officials, police, security, etc..) to get everyone on the same page, and have regular debriefings to discuss what is going right as well as what steps can be taken to correct any potential problems.
  • Communicate safety strategies with fans through fliers, scoreboard, public address, and other means.
  • Some parking facilities are experimenting with parking lots dedicated to families and women to help provide a safer environment (Mosebar, 2015).

There can be no guarantee that a facility will be 100% safe.  If there have been past instances of assaults, crimes, etc… then a facility is on notice that such actions can occur. That is where facilities can face significant liability. Thus, sport facilities need to monitor what is going on in their parking lots and undertake some of the strategies mentioned above to reduce the chance of future assaults and possible liability. There is no magic formula as to what needs to be done, but the more strategies that are used and that can be proven, the better defense a facility can have if they get sued.


Associated Press (2014, February 21). Man charged in death of fan. 

Bearman v. University of Notre Dame (453 N.E.2d 1196 (1983). news service (2013). Three stabbed after Broncos game.

Fickes, M. (2016, September). 9 keys to building security. Buildings, 30-34.

Fried, G. (2015). Lessons from Stow. Connecticut Lawyer 26 (3) 18-20.

Goldfine, S. (2011). Security burns brighter at Candlestick Park. Security Sales & Integration 33 (12) 40-44.

Gomez, M and Melvin, J. (2013, September 26). Jonathan Denver, 24, son of Dodgers security guard, stabbed to death following San Francisco Giants game.

Hensley, N. (2015). Man shot in head during Dallas Cowboys tailgate fight outside AT&T Stadium after crowd goaded gunman.

Mosebar, J. 92015). Parking spaces. Security-Today 19 (9) 75-77.

Environmental Sustainability and Sport

by: Brian P. McCullough & Galen T. Trail

On October 4, the Pittsburgh Penguins visited the White House as part of their ceremonial press conference and congratulations from the President. Not only did President Obama congratulate the Penguins on their success on the ice, but also praised their success and commitment to environmental sustainability. In fact, the President also declared October 6 as Green Sports Day. This declaration follows the NHL’s collective commitment to environmental sustainability. As Commissioner Bettman notes frequently, without action, global warming will continue and the sport will lose its primary setting to teach and play the game – frozen ponds. The League’s commitment has gone as far as to releasing a sustainability report – notably the first professional league in North America to do so. However, in a recent webinar hosted by the Green Sport Alliance the NHL’s Director for Corporate Social Responsibility noted the importance of educating current and future professionals to be able to address the environmental sustainability issues that the sport industry faces and will continue to face as time progresses.

IMG_8833Like the NHL, other sport organizations and events have begun to advance their sustainability initiatives by deepening their commitments to reducing their impact on the natural environment. Michael Pfahl (Ohio University), Sheila Nguyen (Sport Environmental Association, formerly at Deakin University – Australia), and I wrote a piece conceptualizing the ebbs and flows in the waves of environmental sustainability within the sport industry. As sport organizations deepen their commitments, the sophistication of their environmental sustainability initiatives and campaigns dramatically increase. We have been fortunate to assist several sport entities in their sustainability efforts. In particular, we have explored fan and participant consumer segments to better design effective sustainability campaign messages.

From our initial work and conversations, it is obvious that sport professionals do not have the appropriate amount of time to dedicate to their organization’s environmental sustainability initiatives. It seems then that sport managers are not able to handle the multitude of components and time to coordinate well-executed sustainability campaigns. Some sport professionals, it would seem, are learning as they go rather than being more intentional about their campaigns. As a result, there is a need for knowledgeable professionals to be able to evaluate, design, and implement, a strategic plan to reduce their organization’s impact on the natural environment. The sport management academy needs to respond to this demand with fluid classes and curriculum that continually discuss the impact of all aspects of environmental sustainability

artsci-msal-spiritmark-copyAt Seattle University, we are working to fulfill this responsibility within the sport industry to meet the needs of the natural environment in practical ways. We launched the first comprehensive curriculum by creating the 100% online and standalone Sport Sustainability Leadership certificate. The program uses theoretical frameworks as a foundation to teach our students how to be on the leading edge to make the business case for implementing environmental sustainability into all aspects of the operation of a sport organization. The dynamic online environment and design of the courses allows working professionals to network with other student globally, which brings in perspectives that are not commonly shared in traditional face-to-face programs.

Our students have already contributed to the industry through their course work and final projects. For example, one has worked with the Olympic Club (San Francisco, CA) to create their first sustainability report to be released soon. Additionally, this student worked with the Super Bowl 50 Planning Committee to compile their sustainability report following the week long festivities in San Francisco to the LEED Gold Certified Levi Stadium in Santa Clara, CA. Recently she has started her own sport environmental sustainability company, Impact360 Sports.

Additionally, another student has been working with the Los Angeles Football Club (MLS),soccer-698553_1280.jpg a 2018 expansion team, with their sustainability strategic plan as the organization grows and plans its facility. He has worked to maximize the organization’s LEED certification classification and develop other procurement procedures to ensure the team is zero-waste from day one. Lastly, he is also helping the team reduce their water and energy consumption, which comes as a financial premium in drought parched and energy starved Southern California.

Now is the time for the sport management academy to respond and meet the current and future needs of the industry and our practitioner colleagues by encouraging curriculum and research focused on the emerging questions as the industry seeks to be more environmentally responsible. Seattle University’s SSL program has taken the global lead in doing such.