Civic centers and stadiums

Access to privately owned stadiums and arenas is treated the same as any private property, and reporters are usually subject to the whims of the owners in granting access. And when municipal property is used for a commercial rather than governmental purpose, the media may have no special right of access beyond that afforded the general public. Generally, this means that journalists who wish to photograph or record news such as concerts or sporting events may be prohibited from doing so even if the venue happens to be owned by the government.

A number of federal courts have found that even if a civic center is municipally owned, when the city participates in a commercial venture by leasing the center, it is not operating in a governmental capacity and is therefore free to exclude journalists from events. But other courts have held that private event organizers cannot admit some journalists while barring others; even though a facility is leased to a private organization, the private group was still bound by the same rules that applied to the use of municipal property for government functions.

Reporters and publishers have occasionally met with resistance for gathering or distributing news on public property outside of sporting events. In almost all cases, courts find such restrictions invalid, unless the distribution is done in a way that interferes with public access to the facility.