There’s a reason I try to avoid sitting in the upper deck at sporting events. Aside from the better, closer view to the action, I just don’t do well with heights. That makes what happened at Turner Field in Atlanta last night all the more terrifying and devastating [via AP]:
The mother of a Georgia man who died after falling from an upper-deck platform at Turner Field in Atlanta says her son was a lifelong Braves fan who followed the team through losing seasons as well as winning ones.
Ronald Lee Homer Jr., fell about 65 feet at Monday night’s game between the Atlanta Braves and Philadelphia Phillies, which had been delayed for nearly two hours by heavy rain, authorities said.
Homer, 30, spoke with his mother Connie Homer by cellphone as he and other fans waited for the rain to let up. In that conversation, he said the rain was beginning to slack off and indicated he was preparing to go into the seating area for the game.
“He said ‘I love you Mom,’ and I said ‘I love you, too’ and that was it,” his mother said in an interview with The Associated Press on Tuesday morning. …
It was not the first fall at the stadium to result in death.
In May 2008, a 25-year-old man suffered head injuries when he fell down a stairwell at Turner Field during a game and later died. Police found that alcohol had factored into that accident, which the Braves had said was the first non-medical fatality to happen at the ballpark.
In August 2012, a 20-year-old man died after falling over a railing during a football game. Authorities said he landed on another man seated in the lower level and that alcohol was a factor.
The next month, a man fell about 25 feet over a staircase railing at a football game and was not seriously injured.
It’s not clear, as of yet, whether alcohol played a factor, and police have said there is no indication of foul play.
Whatever the reason for the fall, one thing is clear: the safety measures taken at stadiums to prevent things like this from occurring fall way too short.
Despite making every effort to avoid the upper levels of stadiums (I don’t care that that’s where the real fans sit, being up that high can be terrifying), I’ve viewed a fair number of games up in the 400s and beyond, getting as close to the front row as possible without actually being in the front row. Why, you ask? Because there is no way that I’m putting my life in the hands of a 6-inch piece of Plexiglas that is supposed to keep me from going over the edge. I won’t do it. I understand that people don’t want their view to be obstructed and every seat in the house has to be the perfect one, but what good is that thing really going to do? And then to see people leaning 3/4’s of their body over it with beer in one hand, just to catch a foul ball… What the F%#$ are you thinking, bro?
The International Building Code calls for a 42-inch minimum height for railings at the base of aisles; that drops to 26 inches for railings in front of fixed seating, barely knee height for the average adult, and short enough for anyone able to stand on their own two feet to go toppling over. That ought to be raised.
I also get that stadium architects want to have sleek, way-beyond-modern designs for their stadiums with tons of open air and all that fancy shit, but if you know, going into those projects, that 1 in 12 spectators are going to leave five sheets to the wind, why not think about keeping those open spaces closed just enough to prevent someone from doing something stupid? It’s been proven now at least half a dozen times in the last five years that accidents do happen–both alcohol-related and non–yet nothing is being done to make these buildings safer.
Maybe it’s the cost of putting in taller glass that’s not so appealing, or fans that don’t want to have their views obstructed? Whatever it is, it’s worth spending a few tens of thousands more to update these billion-dollar buildings if it means saving lives.