Authorities brace for wild football weekend


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Homecoming weekend. Check. Night game. Yes. Undefeated Hawkeye team against a big-time rival. Definitely.

“It could be the perfect storm,” said Iowa City police Sgt. Troy Kelsay.

Any one of these factors can lead to increased police presence, he said. This weekend, they are all coming together.

In anticipation, more officers will patrol downtown Saturday than at any previous game this season. In total, 24 Iowa City officers and at least 38 officers associated with the UI police will be on hand.

More are available in case things get bad, Kelsay said.

The additional officers will primarily be used to shuffle people from the stadium to the downtown area and won’t likely stay until 2 a.m. when bars close, he said.

“We certainly are concerned,” said Charles Green, the assistant vice president for UI police. “It’s going to prove to be a very exciting evening.”

The Johnson County Ambulance Service, which typically fields a large number of drunk calls on weekends, will position trucks at Kinnick Stadium and around Iowa City.

During the last Hawkeye home night game against Ohio State, the ambulance service hospitalized 20 fans during the game and took another 38 calls throughout the day, many of which were alcohol related. Normally, they get about 20 calls.

Stadium workers, including police, will likely work about an extra two to three hours because of the late start, said Paula Jantz, an associate athletics director who oversees game-day operations. Some could work as much as five to six extra hours, she said.

Such late game starts tend to result in a large number of intoxicated fans.

“We know that is going to happen. It’s unfortunate, but we are prepared for it,” she said. “We certainly anticipate that we will have more arrests.”

She said Kinnick Stadium officials won’t hesitate to arrest or eject any unruly fans.

At least 90 officers will be at the game when it ends, Kelsay said.

Athletics Director Gary Barta picked the week before this game to criticize a select irresponsible few for reflecting poorly on Hawkeye tailgating. He wrote a letter to local papers and sent an e-mail about the behaviors.

He said he and his staff talk about the issue continually, but brought it up this week because the Hawkeyes will be under the national spotlight during the game. Iowa is ranked No. 12 and undefeated at 5-0 for the first time under head coach Kirk Ferentz.

“I just thought this was the prefect time to reach out to fans,” he said. “We are trying to take a great tailgating experience and make it better.”

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