The days of professional memorabilia collectors hanging near the Vegas Golden Knights’ arena trying to get autographs from players are already over.
The team announced a new policy Wednesday that restricts anyone over the age of 14 from entering a designated area inside the team’s practice facility where fans can ask players for signatures, according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal’s Steve Carp.
The policy is part of an effort to better handle the massive crowds that have shown up as a result of the team’s remarkable season. The Golden Knights are unusually open compared to some other NHL teams, allowing fans access to watch team practices and meet players afterwards. But that comes with challenges when the crowds keep growing, so new rules needed to be implemented.
In addition to establishing the designated autograph area with an age restriction, the Golden Knights have also banned loitering in the parking lot near the team’s practice facility.
“Obviously we were having large crowds showing up at our practices, and I just felt like we had to define a better process,” Knights president Kerry Bubolz said Tuesday. “So we looked to define a better process, and ultimately, that the most people can get autographs that we decided to limit it to kids.”
The age restriction stems from concerns that adults, and specifically professional autograph collectors who sell the souvenirs, have been “getting out of hand” in trying to accumulate as many autographs as possible. It wasn’t just a matter of fairness, but of safety, too.
“What I saw, honestly, I saw adults at times pushing kids out of the way, and that’s just not how we’re wired,” Bubolz said. “On the exterior of the building we had to change that process, too. Guys were stopping, as they always do, and it was creating a safety hazard. We saw kids running into the street and we just couldn’t have an incident like that take place so we had to change that process as well.”
It’s unfortunate that many genuine fans won’t be able to get autographs at this point, and it’s unclear how the team will actually enforce these rules, but it’s a sign of the the Knights’ immense popularity that this was necessary. Carp followed up later Wednesday with a story about some season ticket holders who understood the team’s decision.
“I agree, the team needed to do something,” one season ticket holder said. “I was out there a couple of times with the cars and it was insane. The players need some privacy and if I were a player, I’d want to be able to go home.”
Making things safer and more accessible for kids seems like the sensible thing to do, even in a city devoted to more adult entertainment.