Elizabeth Weise, USA TODAY
SAN FRANCISCO - City officials are hoping for a Super Bowl victory Sunday - but more importantly, they're hoping it won't end in fires, hundreds of thousands of dollars in damage and dozens of arrests.
That was the scene in October when the San Francisco Giants won the World Series.
The city is preparing for the Super Bowl matchup between the San Francisco 49ers and the Baltimore Ravens with more than just celebration in mind. San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee will be staying in San Francisco and not traveling to New Orleans, so he can watch the game from various local venues and keep an eye on things, said spokeswoman Christina Falvey.
On Wednesday the mayor visited businesses in the city's Mission district, where several stores had windows smashed or dealt with fires after the Giants' 4-3victory over the Detroit Tigers on Oct. 28.
"The mayor expects a safe, peaceful Sunday and he's telling people to be responsible and respectful to the city. But we're ready for anything," said Falvey.
National Football League rules prohibit public viewing stations of the game so there won't be a public viewing party as there was for the World Series. On Oct. 28 as many as 10,000 people were estimated to have come to to Civic Center Plaza downtown to watch the game and celebrate afterwards. The alcohol-free event was very popular.
San Francisco officials are instead grappling with the logistics of tens of thousands of people all over the city pouring out of bars and homes after the game is over rather than being clustered in any single area.
After the Giants' win, small groups of mostly young men wandered various parts of San Francisco, setting fires, flipping taxis and dancing on buses and cars. A $700,000 city bus was torched. Many were later arrested in part because of a steady stream of tweets and photos they and their friends posted as the vandalism was happening.
As they did for the World Series, police will set up a tactical command center and put more than 100 extra officers on the streets Sunday, said Officer Albie Esparza, a San Francisco Police Department spokeswoman. They'll be placed strategically around the city in neighborhoods that tend to erupt during sporting events, especially North Beach, the Marina, South of Market and the Mission District.
The Municipal Transportation Agency will also be rerouting and beefing up bus lines "should there be large crowds in certain areas," said Esparza.
After the World Series there were more than 70 trash fires set by rioters. In multiple instances they also threw in the wheeled plastic garbage and recycling cans issued to every home and businesses. The fires resulted in huge clouds of thick, acrid smoke. To make such fire-setting harder, San Francisco's garbage company Recology will be sending out seven extra garbage trucks and doing garbage pick up in selected commercial areas earlier in the day, said Recology spokesman Robert Reed.
That will give merchants the chance to pull their garbage bins "inside, behind a locked gate or into a storage area so they're off the street," said Reed. His staff have also been attending neighborhood merchant meetings to tell them about the plan, as well as directly contacting 60 commercial customers.
The fire department will have extra ambulances at the ready and more fire fighers on duty on Sunday, said spokeswoman Mindy Talmadge.
Despite the dour mood of officials preparing for the worst, the rest of the city is excited and hoping for the best. Cars and trucks are sprouting 49er flags from their sides and many gas stations have let entrepreneurs set up make-shift booths selling t-shirts, hats and other team paraphernalia.
Many small businesses, like Glen Park Hardware in a southern neighborhood, have re-done their front window displays to feature products that sport 49ers game colors. And at many of the city's public and private schools which require uniforms, students got a "free dress day" on Friday-as long as they wear 49er colors.
"I would say about a quarter of the kids had 49ers colors today," said Christina Quiroz, arts coordinator at Starr King Elementary School. "It wasn't like they just a red shirt on, they had the full regalia. They were even allowed to wear hats, which they can't usually keep on inside."