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Ill. Bill Aims to Protect Players

May 16, 2003

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) _ Spectators who run onto the field and attack players or game officials would face stiffer penalties under a bill passed Friday by the Illinois Senate.

The bill passed 57-0, and now goes to the House.

The proposal is a response to separate attacks in the last year on a coach and umpire at Chicago White Sox games.

Under the bill, offenders would be charged a minimum of $1,000 for battery and could face up to a year in jail for trespassing on a playing field.

``My desire is to assure the public at all sports venues that Chicago is a safe place for fans ... and sports officials,″ said the bill’s sponsor, Sen. Mattie Hunter.

She hopes the measure also will prevent children from seeing violence at sporting events.

The measure would apply at all levels of competition in amateur and professional sports.

Sen. Rickey Hendon of Chicago said that with both professional sports and college stadiums in his district, he fully supports the bill.

``I don’t need people ... beating up on umpires and referees,″ he said.

Supporters also hope the bill will discourage any further attacks at U.S. Cellular Field as the White Sox prepare to host this summer’s All-Star game.

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