Lambeau Field Among Tops In Fan Arrests

With all of the examples of unruly behavior around the nation this past week, it got me thinking about which NFL teams have the highest number of fan incidents at their games.  To be clear, that's not to compare the incidents in Louisiana, Minnesota or Dallas to the rowdiness of NFL fans, but upon looking into it further, there is still quite an issue with fans fighting at games.  Unfortunately the home of the Green Bay Packers, Lambeau Field, is no exception.

Here is a list of the top 15 NFL venues with the most arrests.  The title says "NFL Teams" but it really relates to incidents isolated to that team's home venue and not specifically related to Packers fans alone.  This obviously also includes fans of the opposing team as well.  On this list the Packers come in at 15th, just behind the Minnesota Vikings and Chicago Bears.  Packers fans have forged somewhat of a reputation for being some of the more hospitable in the NFL.  That's a very general statement and there are no stats to back that up.  Sure, there are plenty of Packers fans who drag down that average by acting up, both at Lambeau Field and at road games.  Ask any Bears or Vikings fans and they'll probably tell you that it's because of Packers fans that their own venues have such high arrest totals.  

The game of football carries a lot of emotion with it and that certainly carries over to fans.  The physical and violent nature of the sport create an atmosphere of intensity and for many fans, their reactions and behavior are outlets to express jubilation, stress or agitation.  Some venues have gained a reputation for not being kind to opposing fans.  The old adage of "never go to the restroom by yourself at a road game" appears to be alive and well at stadiums such as Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, CenturyLink Field in Seattle, Gillette Stadium in Foxborough (home of the New England Patriots), O.co Coliseum in Oakland and Levi Stadium in San Francisco, for example.  And as a visiting fan, they often aren't as familiar with the general behavior and mores of the fan base at a particular venue.  Again, many of these ideas are very generalized but there's a lot of truth to the 'mob mentality' label to NFL fans.  Some fans take on a different persona than their own when they cross the threshold into a game.  They see opposing fans as the enemy and the game itself as a war.

One interesting fact that I came across in researching fan fights is that the NFL is now looking to ban fans who are ejected from a stadium from attending games at other stadiums as well.  Seems like a lofty goal as it would appear very difficult to positively identify a fan entering a venue as one who shouldn't be admitted due to a past ejection.  Perhaps by sending this message to fans, the NFL is simply trying to prevent some of the rowdy behavior with the threat of losing future opportunities to see a game live.  Sort of like the police car sitting on the side of the road in plain sight that causes drivers to slow down and drive more carefully simply because it's there.  The other part of the NFL's attempt to address bad fan behavior is the requirement of fans who are ejected to complete a course on fan conduct and then apply for reinstatement to the team that tossed them.  This also seems like a reach by the NFL to control fans and the experience but any dent the league can make in reducing altercations is a positive step.

Keeping up with the weekly incidents at Lambeau Field is easy if you're on Twitter.  Reporter Doug Schneider (@PGDougSchneider) of the Green Bay Press-Gazette tweets out his famous "scanner squawk" updates throughout the home games.  These are tweets of the actual things said by stadium security personnel when dealing with fan issues.  And this raises another point to some would-be trouble makers: there are eyes and ears all around us now.  With every cell phone doubling as a camera and with the simple ability to text an issue and alert security, hopefully many of these altercations are squashed before becoming too serious.  Serving alcohol at sporting events is simply too profitable for teams to consider removing in an attempt to reduce deviant behavior and this will continue to feed the issue.  Hopefully venues are ensuring that their staff are watching for those who they should not continue to serve however if you look generally at how often this happens at venues of any sport, it's probably not often enough. 

Violence among fans has no place at a sporting event.  They're meant to be enjoyed as entertainment and an escape from the every-day stress of life.  Incidents such as the 2011 beating of a San Francisco Giants fan by Los Angeles Dodgers fans that left the Giants fan with permanent brain damage and the Dodgers fans in jail are grim reminders that there is a long way to go in making the game experience safe.  There are only so many security personnel compared to fans and many of these altercations take place in the parking lot or far enough from the venue that there is no security.  The increased measures fans must go through to get into the stadium really only help limit what they're bringing into the stadium, such as weapons or anything dangerous that they're carrying.  Unfortunately those pat downs don't keep fans from drinking to excess or keeping their heads in check when another fan talks smack or is acting obnoxious.

So my public service announcement to our readers and Packers fans: Don't be an idiot.  Remember that, in the end, we're all fans of the game and want to continue to be able to enjoy and watch it!

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Jason is a freelance writer on staff since 2012 and also co-hosts Cheesehead TV Live, Pulse of the Pack and Pack A Day podcasts.  You can follow him on Twitter here

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Comments (34)

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Bearmeat's picture

July 11, 2016 at 05:47 am

Great reminder Jason. As a Cheesehead who hasn't lived in WI since 2000, and who's lived thousands of miles from Lambeau since 2008, I've been to my fair share of non-division road games.

I had a Pats fan threaten to fight me in the 2010 classic that we lost with Flynn at QB. I was with my wife and father in law (who is a Pats fan). All I was doing was cheering for my team - not dogging the Pats in any way. The guy was obviously sauced - but still.

I was at the 2012 game that GB shellacked the 5-1 Texans 40-10 in with a bunch of Packers fans. Houston fans weren't happy that we killed them, but overall they were very kind.

Regarding fights, I'm convinced there are idiots everywhere. It's not confined to one fan group or any one demographic. In my experience, your odds of being seriously bothered as a road fan depends on what time of day the game is occurring (more time to drink means its more likely at night games), how big the game is, what is the current state of the rivalry between the teams, and last but not least, your own actions. Wearing all green and gold and cheering when the other teams QB makes a mistake is a quick way to be heckled or worse.

I wish people were more understanding of each other in general, but this is not human nature.

Except Vikings fans. Screw them. ;)

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jeremyjjbrown's picture

July 11, 2016 at 09:15 am

"I wish people were more understanding of each other in general"

I had some folks start to give me a hard time at Solder Field for the Packers Bears. While I expect and maybe even appreciate some friendly razzing they where getting a little personal. My response was to point out how I thought that the Packers/Bears rivalry was really what the game was all about and that the Packers Vs the Bears is the best two weeks of football that I look forward to and that I am happy that Bears fans are passionate about the Bears. That sort of stopped them in their tracks and they ended up buying me a beer. I never would have imagined some rowdy Bears fans buying a guy in Packers gear a beer at Soldier field.

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Bearmeat's picture

July 11, 2016 at 11:37 am

That's well done on your part. I did much of the same thing with the Pats fan who wanted to fight me. I said: "Look, my wife is next to me and my father in law is on my other side. I'm not going to fight you. I'm just here rooting for my team. I hate the Pats - but only because they are the only team that's won more than GB since 2000. That's some serious respect when you think about it. Why don't we just all enjoy this great game?"

He ended up taking our picture by the 4th quarter.

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Paul Griese's picture

July 13, 2016 at 12:49 pm

I was also at that Pats game in 2010 and had a similar experience of a single person being very menacing. And later we waited in the parking lot for one guy in our party for a very long time, and he showed up in rough condition and said he "had taken a fall into a ditch" on the way back. Most of us thought he got rolled. But he could have been in one of those busses with the blackout windows, too.

Its a bit dubious; a stadium makes the most arrests, it could be they are safer because they are actually doing the job of enforcement.

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WKUPackFan's picture

July 11, 2016 at 05:54 am

Was lucky enough to make my one pilgrimage to Lambeau in December, 2002 (beat the Bears, big interception by McKenzie). Sat above one of the end zone tunnels. A Bears fan was close to us and a couple of GB fans started giving him a hard time. Almost immediately the other fans quashed that activity, saying "We don't treat people like that here".

I was very proud to be associated with some great fans that day.

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jasonperone's picture

July 11, 2016 at 10:59 am

That was also my first game at Lambeau! Got photo bombed by a Bears fan while taking a pic with St. Vince. My former high school teammate Mike Brown was on the field for the Bears

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WKUPackFan's picture

July 11, 2016 at 12:57 pm

That's awesome Jason! It was an excellent game, and fortunately not too cold. I hope to make it back some day.

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jasonperone's picture

July 11, 2016 at 02:00 pm

What really amazed me was how many were in hunting gear vs. team colors however it was the first day of the open season so that was a reminder about how passionate they are in WI about hunting. I was living in CA at the time so it was plenty cold enough in my book!

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WKUPackFan's picture

July 11, 2016 at 02:08 pm

I was blown away by the hunting gear also!

It was cold enough (32° with some wind if I remember correctly). Fortunately I was prepared with my Starter Packers winter jacket, Packers gloves and socks, etc.

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NickPerry's picture

July 12, 2016 at 05:30 am

@WKU...Excellent example of 99.9% of the fans at Lambeau. One of our customers went to the 2007 Championship Game between the Packers and Giants. She told me Packers Fans couldn't have been more friendly and courteous, even after such a heart wrenching defeat, both during the game and in the Parking Lot before and after the game. It DOES make you proud to be a Packers Fan!

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WKUPackFan's picture

July 11, 2016 at 06:12 am

Perhaps @Nick Perry could help us with some California knowledge here, however, it is my understanding that there is gang activity around the San Francisco home games. People who seem knowledgeable have discussed this on the radio. The specific gang name was mentioned, but I cannot recall it at this time.

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NickPerry's picture

July 11, 2016 at 07:07 am

The Gangs are always my biggest concern when I go to a game out here in California. I always go with the same friend, a 6'4" 240 pound Hispanic man so perhaps that helps but I'm also an "Older Gentleman" so I think that might play a role in it too. As sad as this sounds I don't wear any "Packers Gear" while at the games either, no need inviting trouble either. It's in the Parking Lots that the hair on my neck starts to stand up, that's where I've always saw any altercation. It's not just San Francisco either. There's Gang Issues in Oakland and San Diego too.

The Gangs ARE a huge problem at the games and it scares me to death what games will be like at the Los Angeles Coliseum again with the Rams here again. Alcohol is always the driving force in most of this crap. It's a shame a few have to ruin it for everybody but I wouldn't mind seeing alcohol banned from being sold at games. I know that won't happen and probably would piss several people off, but I'd bet fights would decrease by quite a bit.

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WKUPackFan's picture

July 11, 2016 at 01:05 pm

Thanks for the excellent information Nick. I have heard about the parking lots. Apparently the Dodgers lots were really bad during the McKort (sp?) era.

Hope everything goes well at the Coliseum, and at the new stadium.

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NickPerry's picture

July 12, 2016 at 05:23 am

Yup and like anything it normally takes something as horrible as what happened to John Stow, the Giants fan attacked at Dodgers Stadium, before anything really gets done.

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NickPerry's picture

July 11, 2016 at 06:26 am

I've been to games in Oakland, San Francisco, and San Diego and never had a problem. I've only saw a few altercations at games, but it always seems to be a 5 foot nothing, 170 pound man who consumed WAY too much alcohol and their mouth overloaded their a$$. Alcohol is behind 95% of this stuff.

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Since'61's picture

July 11, 2016 at 09:08 am

Jason - a good reminder for everyone. I agree with the previous comments that alcohol is often the cause behind much of the altercations at stadiums but as you correctly mention the venues will continue to sell it because there is too much profit in it. Additional police/security presence might help but that would drive up costs which the fans will bear in higher ticket prices or taxes. With the increasing level and threats of violence coming from just about everywhere it's time as Bearmeat stated for people to be more considerate and respectful of each of other. What is there to fight about at a football game anyway? I took my children to all type of sporting events as they were growing up without hesitation, now I am very hesitant to encourage it with my grandchildren as they are approaching the age where they can go to games. It's a sad commentary on the times. If we can't resolve the issues which are the root causes for the violence then pretty soon we will need to wear more equipment than the players to go to a game or maybe just to go outside at all. Stay safe and peace to all. Thanks, Since '61

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MarkinMadison's picture

July 11, 2016 at 11:08 am

I'm not sure I'd describe Lambeau as being "among the tops." More like, "in the middle of the pack." We're #15 out of 32, not #5. Arrest numbers also don't necessarily tell the whole story. I do think Lambeau is far more hospitable than most. So here are some reasons that might slant the numbers: (1) We have a higher number of binge drinkers than most states. In general, the crowd is pretty damn nice. I'd be a lot more nervous around a sober philly fan than the average drunk packers fan. Hell, the Giants fans were talking more smack before the playoff game in Lambeau than the Packers fans were. But stupid drunk is as stupid drunk does. (2) Higher standards. Conduct that might viewed as "typical" at the Meadowlands or in Philly will get you arrested in Wisconsin. (3) There are a number of teams whose fans are too apathetic to get into trouble. I'm talking about you, Jacksonville. Sure, Lambeau gets more arrests, but in proportion to the intensity of the fan base, we're a bunch of kittens.

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MarkinMadison's picture

July 11, 2016 at 11:10 am

Hey, I'm not a Caring Bridge guy, but I still give a damn. No surviving Sunday article. Can someone tell me that Adam is doing o.k.?

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ray nichkee's picture

July 11, 2016 at 11:28 am

I missed not having surviving sunday to start my morning also.

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TarynsEyes's picture

July 11, 2016 at 11:37 am

I believe he went to NY concerning a possible procedure he may now be more suited to undergo.

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JerseyAl's picture

July 11, 2016 at 12:36 pm

Adam was a bit tired from his trip to NY and the physical and mental grind his battle brings every day, so he requested the day off. He's going back to NY this week for some tests to determine if surgery is now an option.

Al

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MarkinMadison's picture

July 11, 2016 at 01:17 pm

Thanks Al. I know everyone here wishes Adam all the best.

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NickPerry's picture

July 12, 2016 at 05:33 am

Thanks for mentioning Adam Mark.

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Tundraboy's picture

July 12, 2016 at 11:49 am

Thanks for update. Figured as much. Lot going on trip aside.

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marpag1's picture

July 11, 2016 at 11:42 am

I'm rather skeptical about the data in that article you referenced. The article seems to be based purely on the raw, total number... in other words, if you had 138 total arrests, that's more than 137, etc. But how do these bare numbers relate to total attendance? A far more compelling statistic would be the PERCENTAGE of fans who got arrested at each venue.

For example, you noted that MIN came in one spot ahead of GB. That makes it sound like the incidents resulting in arrests were about the same in both places. I have my doubts about that. Over the past five years, the Packers were 5th in total attendance and the Vikings were 31st. The average Green Bay crowd was 18,259 people larger than the average Vikings crowd. With that in mind, arrests at Vikings games might actually be much MORE common than at Packer games.

Look at Oakland. Oakland had the MOST arrests, and yet OAK was third LOWEST in total attendance.

No team on the list of 15 had a greater attendance than Green Bay over the past five years - 5th highest in the league. Only New Orleans (7th) and the Jets (8th) are even close.

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WKUPackFan's picture

July 11, 2016 at 01:27 pm

Regarding alcohol sales (and speaking as an 11+ year sober person):

There are studies showing that in stadium alcohol sales actually decrease the amount of drunken incidents. Supposedly such sales decrease pre game binge drinking.

I'm not sure about the accuracy of said studies, but this issue comes up occasionally locally on the college level. The University of Louisville sells alcohol at athletic events, UK does not. Having been to several UK football games over the years, there is some serious consumption before the game (shockingly), not just by students. It's hard to say, because I hear a lot of reports of bad behavior also at U of L games.

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Crackerpacker's picture

July 11, 2016 at 01:57 pm

It is really easy to stop hooligans going to games at home or away it is done in the UK all the time. The hooligan has to report to there local police station during any game there team is involved in, this has an extra punishment that you cannot go on a vacation during the football season.

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blue eyes's picture

July 11, 2016 at 04:30 pm

Tell this to multiple queen fans that are my friends. They went down there and got trashed with random packer fans pre game and post game. Shoot one of my friends was shown such great hospitality down there she is now a packer fan. After being a queens fan for 7 plus years!

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Oppy's picture

July 11, 2016 at 04:38 pm

LAmbeau field, second largest capacity in the NFL, 15th in the league in fan arrests?

Yeah, I'll take those numbers all day long.

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Point-Packer's picture

July 11, 2016 at 07:22 pm

Spent good part of a game heckling five Bears fans sitting in front of me at a home game a few years back, as Jay had a three (maybe 4) interception game. Heckling commenced after one of the Bears fans got on me for my Jim McMahon GB jersey. Would do it all again in a second. Maybe dump beer on them next time.

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Amanofthenorth's picture

July 11, 2016 at 09:24 pm

A pre game ritual of some nice food, maybe a beer or two and a brownie for dessert should make for a peaceful and fascinating game day experience

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ray nichkee's picture

July 12, 2016 at 01:33 am

I want your brownie recipe.

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4thand1's picture

July 12, 2016 at 07:25 pm

Spend a 100 bucks on munchies after the brownie?

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Icebowler's picture

July 12, 2016 at 10:27 pm

The prison wardrobe in Green Bay should be Purple. It would make the visitors feel welcome and the locals embarrassed.

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