Fans 'assume all risks' at Memphis sporting events - Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Fans 'assume all risks' at Memphis sporting events

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MEMPHIS, TN -

(WMC-TV) - The fine print on the back of a ticket stub may be the last thing a sports fan will check when arriving at the track, on the court, or at the ballpark. Although, spectators are encouraged to think about the hidden costs that come with their tickets.

For 12 years and counting, Mary Lois Banks attends baseball games at AutoZone Park.

"I don't miss very many games," said Banks.

Her dedication to seeing the team live explains why she knows every player. Also, she also knows the risk she takes sitting in her season ticket seat by the first baseline.

"We thought the ball was going to the right of us, and as we watched it the wind, [it] hooked it back in. I realized it was going to hit me, so I threw my blanket over my head and ducked. And it hit me," said Banks.

Her trip to the ballpark left her with a knot on her forehead, and bruises all over her face.

"Safety and security is always a part of our game plan," said Redbirds general manager Ben Weiss.

Weiss said injury prevention is a priority, but there are some things they simply cannot manage.

"This is a baseball game, and obviously we don't control where those fouls are going," said Weiss.

In the tiny text on the back of a ticket stub is a compact contract essentially waiving a patron's rights if he or she is injured.

The same disclaimer appears on the back of tickets at Talledega, where seven fans were injured in 2009. Another 28 fans were hurt at Daytona in February 2013. Fine print said all spectators assume all risk and danger including death.

"The court's going to look at the total picture of the circumstances involved," said attorney Alan Hargrove explaining the legalities behind the fine print. "Was safety applied? Was this an event that would be expected normally at this type of sporting event?"

Hargrove said the court must consider each case separately, with the burden of proof concerning safety, falling back on the sports venue.

"Just because this information is on the back of the ticket doesn't mean that all rights are revoked, and the owner has a complete blanket from liability," said Hargrove.

As thousands of Grizzlies fans visit the FedExForum each season, every ticket carries a warning – including playoff tickets.

"The print on the back for all of our NBA games is given to us by the league," said VP of Arena Operations Eric Granger. "No other sport beside basketball do our fans have the access to our players, they can almost touch them."

That is why safety is as important as the score.

"You always should be aware of what's going on with the court. Both with the players and also some of the none game activities," said Granger.

For Grizz fan Sarah Nickell, no fine print could keep her from being a fan.

"It's the same with anywhere that you do really. You have to be aware of the circumstances of your situation and your surroundings. Whether you're at the Forum or in Starbucks. It's the same thing," she said.

Same goes for Banks when watching a Redbirds game at AutoZone Park, where the words on her ticket are the least of her concerns.

"There are signs posted all over the ball park, and we come anyway. Nobody forces me to buy my ticket. So, it's not their responsibility if I get hit," said Banks.

The most likely outcome from accidents like the one at Daytona in February is a confidential settlement. That is when the spectators get compensated, and the track avoids more negative publicity and the uncertainty of a lawsuit.

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