With the Baltimore Ravens clinging to a 14-10 halftime lead against the Cleveland Browns on Sept. 26, Mary Kate Morris and Nicole Marchetto decided to hit the concession stand behind Section 538 of M&T Bank Stadium. Little did they know they would not get to see the second half of the game.
The Baltimore couple saw a long line at the restroom and decided to buy beer and fries until the line diminished. They spotted a plastic cup on the counter and used it to pour ketchup for the fries.
While waiting for their orders, the couple engaged in what Marchetto characterized as “casual kissing.” Almost immediately, she said, a security guard and a supervisor told the women to “stop making a scene.” They were warned three times but continued because, according to Marchetto, ”the kissing was heartfelt and decent in the real sense and was not any different from what numerous law-abiding straight couples were doing all around us.”
Soon afterwards, the security guard demanded to see their driver’s licenses, and then the women were told to leave the stadium immediately. When they asked why they had to leave, the guard accused them of first stealing the cup from the concession stand and then accused them of stealing the beer. A Baltimore police officer intervened and told the guards the couple did not steal the beer. The couple has receipts for all the purchases.
Nonetheless, they were forced out of the stadium by three police officers. As they left, Marchetto said she told the officer, “I am a paying customer and a law-abiding citizen.”
Morris and Marchetto contend their ejection resulted from the kissing and nothing else.
“Straight couples were kissing all around us,” said Morris, who added that no one complained about their displays of affection. “As a matter of fact, some fans were not only approving but cheered us,” she said.
After checking with security personnel, Jan Hardesty, a media spokesperson for the Maryland Stadium Authority, said the ejection was a result of “unauthorized removal of inventory,” referring to the plastic cup. According to Hardesty, an employee of Aramark, the company that operates the concession stands, witnessed the removal of the cup to pour ketchup. Each item must be accounted for, Hardesty said.
Patrick Gleason, public relations manager for the Baltimore Ravens, said he raised the incident with the Ravens’ senior vice president of public and community relations, Kevin Byrne, and vice president of stadium operations Roy Sommerhof.
The official response from Byrne: “We’re aware of the incident, and we’re satisfied with the action taken by the concessionaire, security and police.”
Gleason added, “Many of our game day concession stands are run by volunteer groups to raise money for their charities. Accounting for drinks sold is computed by the number of cups used. If cups are taken or missing once the game ends, then the respective volunteer group is responsible for reimbursement.”
But Morris and Marchetto insist the motive for their eviction was their public display of affection. The couple is considering legal action.