Giants Stadium Crackdown

The New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority is moving to aggressively monitor tailgating and drinking at Giants Stadium following a case in which a jury awarded $135 million to the family of a 7-year-old girl left paralyzed by a drunk driver who got inebriated at the stadium.

The board passed a resolution January 21st that calls for stricter oversight of activity in the parking lots before and after games and also inside the stadium.

“For some reason, people feel they can drink until the cows come home and we’re here to tell them that’s not the case,” Bernard Spigner, NJSEA director of communications, told Pollstar.

The NJSEA plans to increase the number of undercover monitors that look over fans and vendors selling beer, in addition to spotters on the field who scan the crowd with binoculars. Also, the authority will do its best to keep fans who are already inebriated from entering the stadium, Spigner said.

On January 12th, a New Jersey jury awarded $75 million in punitive damages to the family of the child who was paralyzed from the neck down in a 1999 car accident. The family received $60 million in compensatory damages a day earlier.

Philadelphia-based Aramark Corp. , which operates concessions at Giants Stadium, was found liable for most of the damages. The company has said it will appeal the verdict.

The jury ruled against Aramark after the drunk driver, Daniel Lanzaro, testified he bought six beers at halftime. He also admitted to drinking six beers during the first half, which caused his speech to slur.

After the accident, Lanzaro’s blood-alcohol level was measured at more than twice the legal limit of .10. He pleaded guilty to vehicular assault and is serving a five-year prison term.

Authorities already detain up to 60 drunken fans during typical Giants and Jets football games, according to NJSEA President George Zoffinger.

“In almost all those cases, these are people who started drinking a couple of hours before the game in the parking lots,” Zoffinger said. “We are cognizant of that, but [stadium employees] have to make a judgment and sometimes people are reluctant to do that. But this incident just shows what can happen if people do nothing.”

Although the stadium is very strict on “who can drink and how often they drink,” Spigner admitted that no policy is perfect. But he hopes the new resolution will help prevent future tragedies from occurring.