BOSTON (Reuters) - Boston officials on Friday said they planned a heavy police presence and travel restrictions in some areas when the New England Patriots play in Sunday’s Super Bowl, hoping to avert the violence seen following championships a decade ago.
“We’re not going to allow celebrations to become an excuse for dangerous and illegal behavior in the city of Boston,” Mayor Marty Walsh said at a City Hall news conference. “We’re not going to tolerate public drinking, we’re not going to tolerate destruction of property.”
The Patriots face the Seattle Seahawks in the Super Bowl in Phoenix on Sunday.
Police said they would limit travel around several large universities and near the arena where the Boston Bruins and Celtics play beginning at 6 p.m. EST, a half-hour before kickoff. They will shut access to the neighborhood around Fenway Park, home of the Boston Red Sox, after the third quarter of Sunday’s game.
“As you know, over the last 10 years there’s been some tragedies around these sports celebrations and we do everything we can to make sure no one gets hurt,” Boston Police Commissioner William Evans told reporters.
In 2004 two people were killed in post-game riots in Boston - one following the Patriots’ loss to the Carolina Panthers in the Super Bowl and another after the Red Sox defeated the New York Yankees in the American League championships, a game that sent the team on to its first World Series win in 86 years.
Boston fans also have tipped over cars, thrown bottles and set fires following other championships in the past decade.
Evans declined to say how many police officers would be out on the street on Sunday night, other than to say there would be enough uniformed and plainclothes officers to maintain order.
“I’ve been a sports fan my entire life and it amazes me when other cities win the championship and what happens in those cities when people flip cars over and burn cars,” Walsh said. “That’s not a celebration. That’s not a celebration at all.”
Reporting by Scott Malone; Editing by Bill Trott