'Just in case': Why police in Saskatoon aren’t taking chances during Raptors games
Published Thursday, June 13, 2019 5:32PM CST
Last Updated Thursday, June 13, 2019 7:06PM CST
With so much excitement over the Toronto Raptors NBA championship run, Saskatoon police are reminding fans that officers will be out in force, "just in case."
Past championship runs by Canadian teams have proved troublesome for police in various cities.
On Oct. 23, 1993 much of the country was cheering for the Toronto Blue Jays who were in Game 6 of the World Series. The Jays were trailing in the bottom of the ninth inning.
Rob Macdonald, CTV’s news anchor in Saskatoon at the time, said it was an exciting time.
"It was a Saturday night, Game 6 with the Blue Jays needing to win to clinch."
Joe Carter hit the biggest home run in Blue Jays history and they clinched their second World Series championship in a row.
Thousands of fans converged on Eighth Street in Saskatoon to celebrate.
Those celebrations turned ugly.
Properties and businesses were vandalized and police were attacked. The celebration turned into a riot with police resorting to tear gas and batons to control the crowd. At least a dozen people were arrested.
As Macdonald remembers, the riot quickly overshadowed the baseball game.
"The riot just took over any celebrations we wanted to cover."
There is a history of sports fan-related violence in Canada including the June 2011 Vancouver riot after the Canucks lost Game 7 of the Stanley Cup. Dozens were injured and there was more than $5 million in damages after battles with police and large-scale property destruction.
A University of Saskatchewan sports psychologist says passion, large crowds and a tribal mentality, along with a spark, can lead to the unpredictable.
"Some of the usual checks and balances that we have for managing our behaviour are off there in a crowd," Gerald Farthing said.
There were celebrations in Saskatoon in 2013 when the Saskatchewan Roughriders last won the Grey Cup and there was a heavy police presence.
“There's a potential there for things to go haywire pretty quickly," Farthing said.
In reference to the Raptors, the Saskatoon Police Service released a public statement about the potential for civil disobedience when large crowds and alcohol mix. There will be an increase in police resources around the city before, during and after the game.