San Francisco Officials Prepare For Super Bowl, Hope To Avoid Violence
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SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — San Francisco city officials preparing for the 49ers’ Super Bowl game against the Baltimore Ravens are hoping to avoid a repeat of the violence and vandalism that marred World Series celebrations last year.
A total of 36 people were arrested during post-game celebrations in October after the San Francisco Giants’ World Series victory against the Detroit Tigers, 23 of them for felonies. Celebrants lit a number of bonfires in the middle of Mission Street, broke windows and, in one notorious incident, set a Muni 8X-Bayshore Express bus on fire at Market and Kearny streets.
Police Chief Greg Suhr said after the World Series that the destructive behavior of fans caught the department and other emergency responders by surprise. A previous World Series victory celebration in 2010 had been less volatile.
In response, police and city officials are making plans to ensure the Feb. 3 Super Bowl celebrations – assuming there is a celebration – go more smoothly.
“We want the city to be both celebratory and safe for everyone,” Mayor Ed Lee said Thursday at a news conference.
“I’m really concerned about the small businesses that got hurt during the World Series,” he added.
Lee said city officials plan to talk to small businesses in the Mission District and elsewhere that were most affected by the World Series violence starting next week. He also said bars need to be aware of how much alcohol they’re serving.
Mayor Lee went as far as suggesting bars serve something other than hard alcohol during the game.
“I suggest that they serve something (other) than heavy alcohol during the times of celebration cause that inebriation sometimes doesn’t help with people who might go beyond the bounds of acceptability in their celebration,” Lee told reporters Thursday.
Police are working with other city departments and will have additional officers on hand to target potential problem areas and protect public safety, including the Mission District, police spokesman Officer Albie Esparza said.
“We want to show the nation that our fans are high class and that we won’t tear down the city,” Esparza said.
Esparza said the city is also working with the San Francisco 49ers. Following the team’s NFC Championship win Sunday, officials there tweeted to fans asking them to “celebrate responsibly and not tear up the city that they love,” Esparza said.
One element that will be missing from the city’s Super Bowl plans is a public broadcast of the game. While San Francisco showed World Series games live on a Jumbotron screen in the Civic Center, the National Football League does not permit such simulcasts, Lee said.
“It’s probably a business decision on their part,” Lee said. “We’ll accept it.”
Lee noted that it was particularly important to keep the celebrations safe and respectful given that the San Francisco 49ers are making a bid to host the 2016 Super Bowl. That game would be played at the team’s planned new Santa Clara stadium, however, and not in San Francisco.
While planning for possible victory celebrations, Lee said he did not want to comment on the possibility of a parade.
“I don’t want to jinx them,” he said.
(Copyright 2013 by CBS San Francisco and Bay City News Service. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)