U braces for hockey crowds after last year’s riot

Rocky Thompson

Mariucci Arena will open its doors Saturday night to give Gophers hockey fans a place to watch the NCAA championship game and, if the team wins, celebrate together.

“What we learned last year was people really wanted a place to gather in, a place to support the team, and we didn’t provide it,” University community relations director Jan Morlock said.

Last year, following the Gophers’ win at the Xcel Energy Center, Minneapolis police arrested 25 people and charged them with riot in the third degree, obstruction of the legal process and disorderly conduct in Dinkytown.

Approximately 1,000 people – mostly students – clashed with more than 150 state and city police officers in riot gear, trading volleys of rocks and insults with police, who responded with riot sticks and tear gas.

Rioters destroyed trash cans and newspaper holders, lit a fire on University Avenue Southeast and broke a window in Dinkytown while battling with police following the championship win.

In the fallout surrounding last year’s skirmish, several students blamed police for the riots’ escalation, and The Minnesota Daily’s editor in chief met with city officials to discuss attacks on members of the press.

This year, University police will handle all on-campus security surrounding the game, University Police Lt. Chuck Miner said.

“We’re going to be prepared if there is any problems,” he said.

Extra police were on call Thursday evening following the game, and extra staff will be on for the Saturday game, he said.

Minneapolis police will be patrolling areas off campus, and Miner said they will also have extra personnel at hand.

Morlock said alcohol will not be served during the game on Saturday and University police will be handling the security around Mariucci.

Employees at both Dubs Pub & Grill and The Library Bar & Grill said police had not contacted them with any special instructions should there be another riot.

“Last year, we didn’t have a single problem inside; everything was outside,” said Renate Kruschinski, a manager at The Library Bar & Grill.

“Hopefully no one acts like that this year,” she said.

The game will be televised at Mariucci, and hockey highlights will be shown during downtime.

The event will be held from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. and will feature audience participation and door prizes, Morlock said.

Parking in the Huron Boulevard lots will be free Saturday evening during the game.

Miner said other universities have been coordinating events similar to the one being held at Mariucci.

He said it offers people an outlet to celebrate their win.

Rocky Thompson covers police and crime and welcomes comments at [email protected]