A Property Rights Koan For You To Ponder


Last night while enjoying a Giants game at wonderful SBC Park (built with no public funding!), I got a little second-inning sideshow as three of San Francisco's finest and four or five burly stadium ushers entered our second-tier section, marched down to the front row, and escorted out a bunch of fat guys in Chico State sweatshirts. The bouncees, with long faces, left their seats without incident. A few minutes later I head in to the refreshment area and see the same group is now clustered together, discussing terms of surrender; additional cops and stadium security types have arrived. I pretend to be reading some wall text about Willie Mays and listen in. The lead cop is saying, "This is a disorderly conduct charge. We're just going to take your names and give them to the stadium; there won't be anything on your record." Although most of the Chico State guys are gloomily nodding along, one objects: "Listen, the only thing that happened was when we were at the gate there was a guy selling beers; he said 'Beers three dollars," and we thought Great!" And so on. I didn't listen to much more; the upshot is that they were getting tossed for bringing in outside beverages.

I think everybody can agree that the stadium can make and enforce whatever rules it chooses with regard to pricing, outside food and drink, kicking out violators, and so on. (For the record, the cheapest beer you can get at SBC is a slightly-less-than-12-ounce Miller Lite for $7.50.) But what about the disorderly conduct bounce? Presumably the stadium or the Giants organization kicks in something for police overtime. Does that mean the cops can arrest you (or threaten to arrest you) for violating a stadium policy? "Disorderly conduct" is an intentionally broad offense that can be used to define just about any behavior anybody wants stopped, but for what it's worth, the fat guys were not causing any disturbance or infringing anybody's enjoyment of the game. Supposing that there is not a law specifically saying it's disorderly conduct to bring outside booze to a licensed premises (and come to think of it, there may well be such a law), is this a matter for the police to be involved in at all, or should SBC have sole responsibility for giving these guys the boot?