Baylor University’s “blackout” victory Thursday against Oklahoma was one of the most anticipated sporting events in Waco in years, and Baylor police and local law enforcement agencies were braced for myriad problems the sellout crowd could have caused.
They reported few on Friday, but said they’ve begun gearing up for what they are calling the “end game,” referring to Baylor’s game against the University of Texas on Dec. 7, which will be the last Bears game played in Floyd Casey Stadium.
The new Baylor Stadium is slated to open on the banks of the Brazos River in time for the 2014 football season.
The nationally televised Thursday night game featuring the unbeaten Bears and the once-beaten Sooners drew the fourth-largest crowd to see a game at Floyd Casey, with 50,537 packing the stadium.
With bowl scouts there to see the Big 12 contenders and black-clad fans tailgating hours before kickoff, the area around South Valley Mills Drive took on a carnival-like atmosphere.
Baylor Police Chief Jim Doak and Waco police Sgt. W. Patrick Swanton said their agencies anticipated the larger crowd and were thankful that many took their advice and came to the game early.
Beverly Hills Police Chief Debra Bruce reported one minor fender- bender and almost an hour delay more than it normally takes to clear the parking lots after the game.
But other than those things, she said the night went smoothly for law enforcement agencies, which also included McLennan County sheriff’s deputies and Department of Public Safety troopers.
Because of the expected “blackout,” with people wearing dark clothing at night, Doak said officials set up about 40 light systems — about a dozen more than normal — to bathe the area in light where there was none before.
Earlier in the week, Doak had noted the potential problems caused by the “blackout,” saying: “It’s daylight savings time, so that’s a concern too, and to have close to an hour of darkness (before kickoff) and everyone’s wearing black shirts and walking around in the dark? It was a great idea, it just wasn’t ours.”
Swanton reported Waco police investigated several incidents in which cars parked along Franklin Avenue were broken into during the game.
He warned those attending the Dec. 7 game against Texas to keep valuables out of sight or locked in trunks.
“I was pretty amazed at the crowd we had,” Swanton said. “It was an awesome night, and the crowd was actually well-behaved. It was rowdy and loud on both sides of the ball, but everybody got along. It was cool to see the ‘blackout,’ and I think that made a huge difference in how Baylor played, knowing they had that kind of crowd support.”
Doak said his officers weren’t there to spoil anyone’s fun. But, he said three extremely intoxicated people, including one who was ejected from the stadium three times, forced Baylor police to arrest them on public intoxication charges.
“We don’t work on commission,” Doak said. “We counseled with a number of intoxicated individuals. We tried to help them have a good experience, but the consumption of alcohol hampered us from allowing them to have a good time. A few people had way too much of the grape, but mostly, a good time was had by all. Except for the few we gave a different place to spend the night.”
Doak said he met with officers Friday to prepare for what could be a bigger crowd Dec. 7.
“That one will be the end game, literally,” Doak said Friday afternoon. “We are anticipating the end game to be something to behold. We plan on using the experiences of last night, knowing it can’t be much bigger than it was last night.”