As the San Francisco 49ers prepare to take on the Seattle Seahawks Sunday in a closely anticipated contest between division rivals, San Francisco police will be going undercover this to make sure football fans behave at Candlestick Park.
The 49ers released a “home field” manual this week, instructing fans how to cheer and dress for the game. Still, Seattle fans have been chatting online about their safety concerns for the game at the ‘Stick.
“I just basically have to say, it is a hostile environment,” Seahawks Norcal Fan Club President Tod Gomes told KTVU. “I’ve been getting quite a few emails per day saying, ‘Oh, ya’ know, my son’s going to the game, should he wear his jersey?’ Or, ‘I’m bringing my girlfriend, am I gonna be safe?'”
In the 2012 season, San Francisco Police say Candlestick saw 355 ejections, 53 alcohol-related incidents and 14 felony arrests. Sunday’s Candlestick crowd will include an undisclosed number of undercover San Francisco police officers, who’ll be wearing 49ers and Seahawks gear. The goal is to keep the physical contact on the field and prevent a repeat of brawls in the stands and around the ‘Stick that have been seen in recent years.
“Energized fans going at each other- totally in bounds, no problem. If somebody handles somebody, it could well be a San Francisco police officer,” said Police Chief Greg Suhr. “You don’t wanna spend the game that you spent a lot of money on a ticket in one of our padded wagons or substation or jail.”
Other local Seahawk fans, surrounded by sea of Niners red and gold, say they’ve learned to take their isolation in stride.
“It’s a lot of fun. I get a lot of heat, catch a lot of flak from the locals, which is great,” said Seattle fan and San Francisco bartender Kevin Slotemaker. “I like that we can get under their feathers so much, it’s good. People like to talk trash, I like to give it right back.”