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11 injured at free concert

2012-02-05 10:48

Indianapolis - Overwhelming "human gridlock" in Indianapolis' Super Bowl Village is causing police to rethink crowd control before the National Football League championship game.

Eleven people were injured on Friday night as an estimated 50 000 people flooded downtown streets for a free outdoor concert by the band LMFAO. Two other people were injured on Friday separate from the concert-going group. Indianapolis Public Safety Director Frank Straub said none of the injuries were serious - most involved shortness of breath or scraped knees - and were well within the daily average of 10-15 injuries reported at the village so far.

Officials are still tweaking their downtown plan in preparation for more concerts and activities before kickoff on Sunday evening.

Police made a total of 22 arrests on Friday night, mostly for public intoxication. One police car was damaged after concert-goers climbed on top of it to get a better view of the stage.

No problems

To make more room for people downtown, police closed down some streets completely and others just to inbound traffic. Additional officers were stationed near Super Bowl Village.

Rumours of stampedes, stage collapses and gunshots abounded on social-networking site Twitter as crowds grew on Friday, and Straub said Indianapolis Metropolitan Police officers investigated them all and found no problems. He said reports of officers using pepper spray, Tasers or force of any kind to control the crowd were all false.

Super Bowl Host Committee spokesperson Dianna Boyce said despite its overwhelming size, the crowd was good-natured and caused few problems.

"It looked like a lot of people having a good time," Boyce said. "When you have 200 000 people, you have to continue to keep everyone safe." 

In preparation for free outdoor concerts from the bands Umphrey's McGee and O.A.R. on Saturday, Straub said between 650 and 700 officers will be on duty in the downtown area, 50 more than originally planned. Officers will be prepared to close off access to the Super Bowl Village if crowds become too unruly.

But Saturday's forecast may have a greater effect on crowd control than extra police presence. After a week of unseasonable warmth and cloudless skies, rain and temperatures around 0 Celsius were predicted for the evening.

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