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Legal process to keep patdowns on sidelines

That means the fan searches probably won't return to Bucs' games this season.

By BILL VARIAN, Times Staff Writer
Published November 15, 2005

TAMPA - You might say that patdowns at Raymond James Stadium have been put on injured reserve.

Tampa Sports Authority officials say security patdowns during Tampa Bay Buccaneers home games are not likely to return this season because of the time it will take the legal case involving them to go through appeals.

Deadlines for filing briefs and responses to those briefs and responses to the responses likely will push any resolution to a lawsuit challenging the patdowns into next year.

"There will be no patdowns this season, and it won't be resolved this year," said Tampa Sports Authority executive director Henry Saavedra.

The only wild card is if the Buccaneers make the playoffs and get to play into the new year.

The National Football League mandated security patdowns this season at each of the stadiums where its 32 teams play. Last month, season ticket holder Gordon Johnston of Valrico sued the Sports Authority, contending the searches violate his constitutional rights.

Hillsborough Circuit Judge Perry Little issued a temporary injunction against the patdowns until the case could by fully resolved. When the Sports Authority appealed his preliminary order, Little allowed the patdowns to continue.

The 2nd District Court of Appeal halted the patdowns earlier this month until it can weigh in. That likely will take weeks.

Attorneys for the Sports Authority will file a brief sometime this week with the appellate court. Johnston's attorneys then get to respond, and the Sports Authority gets a chance to respond to that.

"When you add up all that time, you end up in that period between Christmas and New Year's," said Sports Authority general counsel John Van Voris. "The chances of it being resolved this season are probably not great."

Meanwhile, the Sports Authority is continuing to talk with the Buccaneers over who should pay for enhanced security put in place after 9/11. Hiring more security guards costs the authority roughly $10,000 a game and the patdowns another $7,500 on top of that.

The Buccaneers refuse to pay for it, saying the Sports Authority is contractually required to pay for all security. The Sports Authority says those contractual agreements never contemplated today's security concerns or envisioned that the NFL would order patdowns. It wants the team to pay.

At the last minute Monday, Sports Authority board members extended by 30 days a deadline they had set for the team to respond to proposals for a resolution.

[Last modified November 15, 2005, 03:00:33]

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