Can a team really ban a fan from a ballpark for life?
Later, I was asked this on Twitter:
@craigcalcaterra Can teams enforce lifetime bans? Seems easy to buy tix on the street and never deal with a team official at the game.
— Nick Devlin (@NickDevlin) June 4, 2012
Good questions! And ones I often wondered about myself.
My guess: it’s not really enforceable. Oh, sure, your name is probably placed in the team’s computer system and if you try to buy tickets from the team or at MLB.com you’re gonna get flagged. But we all go to games where someone else buys the tickets, right? It’s not like they have a meeting before the gates open 81 times a year and ask the gate agents to memorize your picture and keep an eye out for you. You could go if you want. Just keep cool and don’t do anything else dumb.
Commenters (and Nick on Twitter again) later added the point that, if you are caught at the park after being banned, you could be subject to criminal trespassing charges so, yes, there are consequences if you try to beat the ban. But again, they gotta catch you first and that seems unlikely as long as you behave yourself. And as long as your previous antics didn’t make you so famous and recognizable that someone spots you and rats you out.
But the teams probably have a better reason than punishment for announcing such lifetime bans: deterrence. The not unreasonable hope that, if people believe being a jerk at the park will lead to something as scary sounding as a “lifetime ban,” they may refrain from such jerky behavior. Keeping in mind that those who need such deterrence aren’t the types who think through the enforceability of such beasts like we’re doing here.
Other places with lifetime bans: casinos. But I have this feeling they’re another kettle of fish. They have so many cameras everyplace that they probably do know who you are and see you when you walk in. I saw “Ocean’s 11,” so my knowledge of this is just as thorough as my medical knowledge in the Niese post.
It’s serious business. Don’t mess with ‘em.