CLEVELAND (AP) - The Cleveland Indians, emphasizing that the safety of their players and fans is a top priority, on Thursday announced stricter safety measures at Jacobs Field for the 2002 season.
Planes toting various banners will no longer be allowed to buzz over the playing field and fans will not be permitted to carry umbrellas or soft-sided coolers into the park when the club opens its home season Monday against the Minnesota Twins before a sellout crowd.
"Our job is to make sure people have a safe and happy experience at the ballpark," said Bob DiBiasio, the team's vice president of communications. "We advise fans to arrive early to ensure a hassle-free entry to any event."
All fans will be checked at every gate entrance. Fans not carrying items will be checked through one line for faster entry. Those with items will be checked in another line.
The list of previously banned items from the park includes cans, glass and plastic beverage containers, squeeze bottles and thermos containers.
"We will serve water and soft drinks in bottles, but the policy here since the park opened in 1994 has been to pour beer into cups for consumption," DiBiasio said.
Cleveland gained notoriety in December when fans at nearby Browns Stadium angered by a referee's decision that went against the hometown football team pelted the playing field with thousands of plastic bottles.
Single-serve juice boxes and other food items will be permitted at Jacobs Field, along with purses, camera bags, binoculars and diaper bags. All will be inspected.
"In looking at fan surveys, umbrellas were the number one item most often mentioned by fans as being a problem. One, when opened they obstruct the view of others. Two, rain drips off them onto other fans. And three, people can wield them without consideration for others."
Jim Folk, the team's vice president of operations, said most of the Indians' safety precautions were in place long before Major League Baseball asked for changes after the events of last Sept. 11.
Baseball has asked the Federal Aviation Administration this year to ban all aircraft from flying over ballparks.
(Copyright 2002 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)