Sen. Corey Simon, R-Tallahassee, wants to penalize fans who violate the field of play by throwing things at players during a game or storming the field to celebrate a big win.
The former NFL defensive tackle who won a National Championship at Florida State University wants to levy first-degree misdemeanor charges, punishable by up to a year in jail and $2,500 fine, for knowingly entering the field of play or space reserved for a performance before, during and after the event.
Simon has teamed up with Rep. Taylor Yarkosky, R-Monteverde, to define prohibited conduct at live events, including where members of the public cannot go during a scheduled event.
SB 764/HB 319 comes after a surge of 79,000 FSU fans stormed Bobby Bowden Field last November after their team defeated the University of Florida to cap a nine-win regular season – the school’s first in five years.
Simon’s proposal has yet to be assigned a committee hearing in the Senate, but Yarkosky’s is moving in the House and will be heard Feb. 23 in the Criminal Justice Committee.
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How did we get here:
It is a tradition among college football fans across the country to rush the field after a momentous victory, often to tear down a goal post to commemorate the accomplishment.
Some conferences have anti-rushing policies and fine schools for not controlling fan behavior. Last October, the Southeastern Conference fined the University of Tennessee $100,000 after their fans stormed the field in celebration of the school’s first victory in 16 years over Alabama.
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FSU plays in the ACC, which has no such policy against fans storming the field of play, so the school and its fans suffered no sanctions for the 2022 post-UF celebration.
Under Simon’s proposal, stepping onto Bobby Bowden field could cost a fan $2,500.
What does SB 764/HB 319 do
The three-page bill defines what areas are off limits to the general public, who is protected from “interference” from the public, and when the prohibitions are in effect. Provisions include:
- One is prohibited from knowingly entering upon the “covered area of a sporting or entertainment” — where the performance will occur, from when the gates to the event are open until the gates are closed after the event’s conclusion.
- Events covered by the proposal include athletic, artistic, theatrical or other entertainment performances.
- Attendees cannot “place, drop, toss or hurl any substance, object or dangerous instrument upon the covered area.
- Dangerous instrument is defined as any object, article or substance, including saliva, capable of causing death or other serious injury.
- Participants protected are officiating crew members, players, coach, manager, groundskeeper, security, or any artistic or theatrical performers.
What is next?
Yarkosky will introduce HB 319 to the Criminal Justice Committee on Feb. 23. If it passes out of the committee it then has two more committee stops before a floor vote can occur.
SB 764 has yet to be assigned to a committee for a hearing.