DENVER — There was a lot of talk about climbing light posts and turning the streets into a party if the Colorado Avalanche won the Stanley Cup.
Well, the Avalanche won the Stanley Cup, and very little of that happened.
It wasn’t some coincidence that the crowd in LoDo didn’t grow to thousands of people climbing light posts and setting cars on fire Sunday night. Denver Police Chief Paul Pazen said their plan worked.
"From a safety perspective, we’d have to say it was a win just like the Avs game last night," said Pazen.
The Denver Police Department (DPD) had roadblocks all around the city after the Avalanche beat the Tampa Bay Lightning in Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Final. Highway exits into downtown were closed, streets were blocked off and SWAT teams surrounded the areas where fans did come to party. All the cars were directed one way. The goal was to get people away from the city.
"Really the focus is on egress, getting people out of the greater downtown area in a safe manner," said Pazen. "On the way in you have heavy vehicles coming in. On the way out there’s limited access in order to expedite getting tens of thousands of people from a highly concentrated area out to where they want to go."
The only place people did gather in a big crowd was 20th and Market Streets in LoDo. Most of those people didn’t come from the Ball Arena watch party, but from the bars that let out after the game. It also helped that the big watch party on the Tivoli quad was cancelled because of bad behavior last week.
"We were there to step in if anything happened and we did," said Pazen. "There were a couple of instances where folks lit some small fires in the crowds. Our officers escorted the Denver Fire Department up to that location, extinguished the fire and then walked back."
The chief told 9NEWS he had a call last week with the police chief in San Francisco about how they dealt with celebrations after the Golden State Warriors won the NBA championship. The police department in San Francisco said 17 officers were injured during celebrations after their city won the title. Denver worked to avoid what happened in California, and Pazen wanted the advice of a police chief who had just gone through something like this.
After a Stanley Cup win, a lot of people expected some real trouble. DPD arrested one person Sunday night for having illegal fireworks.
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