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Eagles fans well behaved on first day of in-stadium court

November 23, 1997 GMT

PHILADELPHIA (AP) _ Football fans were well behaved at Veterans Stadium Sunday, unwilling to sacrifice their day with the Philadelphia Eagles and Pittsburgh Steelers for an afternoon with Municipal Judge Seamus McCaffery.

McCaffery presided at the first ad hoc court established at the stadium to help control drunken, rowdy fans. Just the threat of staring at bars instead of the game kept many fans on their best behavior.

``I think it’s ridiculous setting off bottle rockets (at the game). We come here to have fun,″ said Eagles fan Skip Kramer. ``People should be able to come down here and have a good time and cheer for whatever team they want to cheer for.″

Several minor arrests were reported in the first half Sunday, but the game had none of the major incidents that plagued last week’s loss to the San Francisco 49ers. A total of 15 arrests were reported by halftime, police said.

David Sharp of Dover, Del., was arrested as he came into the stadium with an open alcoholic container. When he was told not to bring the beverage in, he challenged security guards and was taken to the courtroom in the basement of the stadium, Philadelphia police Capt. Bill Fisher said.

With bloodshot eyes and swaying so much officers had to help him stand in court, Sharp pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct and was fined about $200.

``I thank you for your time,″ Sharp said slurring his words as he was escorted from the courtroom and stadium. He was taken to the police district building to sober up.

``I thank you for your courtesy,″ McCaffery responded.

The court was set up by city officials, the Eagles and municipal judges after rowdy fans earned front page criticism for last week’s Monday night football game. One fan was charged with firing a flare into the crowd and another reported a broken ankle after being attacked.

The city also added 15 officers to the usual 120-officer contingency at the game.

``A successful day will be no cases at all,″ McCaffrey said in a press conference before the game started. ``It’s all about putting stability back into what we consider Philadelphia’s great open spaces.″

Fines for those convicted are expected to range up to $300 and can be paid on the spot. Season ticket holders must forfeit their tickets if found guilty of misconduct or if they let disorderly friends use their seats.