HOUSTON - After being on the world stage hosting the Super Bowl earlier in 2017, Houston is in the spotlight once again playing host to the World Series.
Since the Astros clinched their spot Saturday night, Houston police and other city departments have been quickly making plans to handle the crowds and keep them safe.
After an unforgettable Game 7, Astros fans were back at Minute Maid Park on Monday, filling the Team Store and showing off their orange pride.
“Rocking the hat and just trying to be around Minute Maid Glory right now,” said Catherine Dawson, who was wearing the Astros’ ‘World Series’ hat as she bicycled near the ballpark.
Astros fan Christian Brown was there, too, trying to score World Series Game 3 tickets.
“I’m about to go see how it is,” said Brown, referring to ticket prices. “You’re gonna be deaf by the end of that game!”
While many fans were spending Monday making their Friday plans, Houston police were, too.
“We had a good warmup for (The World Series) with Game 7 over the weekend,” said Executive Assistant Chief Matt Slinkard, during a Monday afternoon news conference. “We’ve learned a lot since 2005 (when the Series was last held in Houston). A lot of the challenges associated with hosting a World Series involve activities that are really ancillary to the game.”
Slinkard says since 2005, the area’s population and downtown construction have both boomed, making traffic control and mobility high priorities for World Series 2017.
However, he says HPD also has better intelligence gathering, partnerships with other agencies, and more technology like social media that they’ll use to get the word out about mobility, safety, and where events are happening.
But unlike the Super Bowl or Final Four, where police can plan years in advance, the World Series only gives them a few days’ notice.
Slinkard says HPD is used to big events year-round at Minute Maid, where the layout and crowd size won’t change. The challenging part? Quickly planning for the events outside of the ballpark.
“Parties that pop up, maybe a small concert that pops up,” said Slinkard. “Those kind of things that will happen over the next days that will become calendared events where we might need a public safety response, not necessarily near the venue, but throughout the nearly 700 square miles that the Houston Police Department patrols.”
HPD won’t talk specific staffing numbers but say they’ll have plenty of resources “both seen and unseen”.
Michael Walter, with Houston’s Office of Emergency Management, says the city is planning to activate its Emergency Operations Center during home games.
Lara Cottingham, Deputy Assistant Director with Houston’s Administration & Regulatory Affairs Department, tells KHOU, “on street parking will be the same, and we will have parking ambassadors out to help folks unfamiliar with the city's parking meters.”
Alan Bernstein, Communications Director for Mayor Sylvester Turner, says the City Hall will be lit in “Astros Orange” at night from Friday through Tuesday.
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