Assorted musings with the 49ers set to host the Houston Texans at Candlestick Park tonight, a week after the violence-marred preseason game between the 49ers and the Raiders:
- The NFL has a serious problem if it sees the need to follow the 49ers’ recommendation and put an end to the Bay Area’s annual preseason affair. The league would essentially be admitting it cannot stage a safe, fan-friendly game between two natural rivals.
- Scary but true – that’s what the 49ers are already saying.
- Canceling the one preseason game that has even marginal interest to most fans is a terrible business decision. As far as meaningless games go, how could the 49ers, the Raiders or the fans of either team do any better? Some of the benefits? The only chance in most years to see the two geographical rivals meet. Greater attendance and concession revenue. Higher TV ratings. And the teams save the costs of a trip anywhere outside of the Bay Area.
- Jed York cited the fans’ “disinterest in the preseason” as a contributing factor to the unruly behavior last week. Great! Let’s can the entire preseason. It’s always been a scam – tying a pair of nearly unwatchable games to season-ticket packages. Meanwhile, college football teams don’t play a single exhibition game, and many programs open with their toughest non-conference opponent.
- The 49ers and the City of San Francisco, which owns and operates Candlestick, seem to be deluding themselves about what the chief problem is with the fan violence. It’s not the rivalry with the Raiders. It’s not the tailgating. It’s the lack of effective security – inside and outside the stadium.
- The cost of the providing that security should be irrelevant. Public safety is paramount. If the city and team can’t provide a safe and enjoyable environment for all, they shouldn’t be allowed to host and profit from the proceedings. Install a slew of high-tech security cameras. Station a police officer at the front of each section, and have plenty of others roving the concourses and parking lot. Employ a zero-tolerance policy to toss out belligerent drunks. Whatever it takes.
- That being said, good luck in totally eliminating fights in the stands or parking lot – at any sporting event. Tempers are bound to occasionally spill over.
- But the senseless violence -- the Bryan Stow attack at Dodger Stadium, the brutal beating in the Candlestick restroom or the subsequent shootings in the parking lot – is a harsh indication that some stadiums have had woeful security in place. Let’s hope that changes starting tonight.