Police in Louisville ready for possible NCAA celebrations - wave3.com-Louisville News, Weather & Sports

Police in Louisville ready for possible NCAA celebrations

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UofL fans celebrating after the 2012 regional victory to reach the Final Four. UofL fans celebrating after the 2012 regional victory to reach the Final Four.

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - Keeping basketball fans and the general public as safe as possible in Louisville during the Final Four is the goal for University of Louisville Police and Louisville Metro Police after fans in Lexington partied a little too hard last year.

"It's going to get wild," said Cole Keller, a UofL student, of a possible party on campus, "this area always gets pretty crazy!"

Fans everywhere get excited when their basketball teams play in the NCAA Final Four, Louisville has two there. 

"Both men's and women's programs going, it's extremely exciting," added Nick George, another student.

Louisville Metro Police along with University Police held a joint press conference Thursday about their crowd control plan for this weekend's games. 

"When we were kids and we won, we jumped up and down really hard in the living room floor," said LMPD Major Kelly Jones of basketball celebrations in his past.

Times have changed. Last year, Lexington Police had their hands full when Wildcat fans poured into the streets after Kentucky won the National Championship. Police say a few of those students turned into arsonists. 

"Lexington was dealing with situations where vehicles were turned over or burned or both," said Lt. David James of the ULPD.

That's why police here went there for help.

Although a little more subdued, Cards fans celebrated on campus and on Broadway last season when they made it into the Final Four for the first time in several years. If the Cards men and women continue their winning ways, police say 200 people comprised of police officers, EMS crews and firefighters will be standing by to address crowds, traffic and criminal behavior.

"We don't want anybody, anywhere to be injured," said Jones.

Police will focus on four locations: The Baxter Avenue/ Bardstown Road bar area, Fourth Street Live!, Broadway and on campus.

With the exception of Cardinal Boulevard, all streets will be open to traffic unless police believe there's a safety risk. As for Cardinal Town, the area of Cardinal Boulevard between 3rd and 4th Streets, it will become a celebration area. 

"They're closing the street and parking lots and everything around here," said George.

There will be no parking there prior to tipoff. There's also no parking along Broadway on game nights from 21st to 31st Streets. Police say they are proud of both the UofL men's and women's teams and understand celebrating, as long as it's safe. So, will they behave?

"I don't know," smiled Shoni Schimmel, a guard on the UofL women's team. "It's exciting because we know our fans are behind us," she said, "Not only the girls, but also the men so, for our fans to be supportive about us, it's great."

"Hopefully, we act with a little bit of responsibility," Keller added, "but you can't make any promises."

Police in Louisville hope their experience with crowds at Kentucky Derby festival events like Thunder Over Louisville have prepared them well.

You can find street closings and times by clicking the following link: LMPD plans road closures pending UofL win.

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