PITTSBURGH (KDKA/AP) – With a win Thursday night, the Pittsburgh Penguins would claim the Stanley Cup for the fourth time in franchise history.
Police are already preparing for a possible celebration around town should the Penguins win Game 5 against the San Jose Sharks.
During a press conference Wednesday afternoon, leaders detailed some of the safety measures that are being put into place.
Guy Costa, the city's chief of operations, said Public Works crews began going to various parts of the city Wednesday to enforce a little-known ordinance in advance of the Pittsburgh Penguins potentially winning the Stanley Cup during the Thursday night game at CONSOL Energy Center.
Looking to head off an unruly victory celebration - assuming there is one - Costa said crews will collect abandoned furniture and empty trash containers. He's urging businesses to do the same before Game 5 against the San Jose Sharks.
"The less fuel that's out there, the better off we will be," Costa said Wednesday. The city even plans to empty or lock newspaper boxes so revelers will have less fuel to set on fire.
The city ordinance prompting the couch roundup is meant to keep furniture built for interior use off people's porches. Such furniture can draw vermin and other pests - but it also can become fuel for impromptu fires fans sometimes set in championship celebrations, City Councilman Bruce Kraus said.
Nearly 19,000 fans are expected at the game, and a similar number are expected to gather outside to watch the game on a big-screen television or fill the streets should the Penguins win.
The Penguins are up 3-1 in the best-of-seven series and could play again Sunday in San Jose and June 15 in Pittsburgh if they don't win Thursday.
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Police Chief Cameron McLay wouldn't say how many of the city's more than 800 police officers will be working Thursday night. But he said officers have been assigned to 12-hour shifts for regular patrol duties so the officers who would normally work the eight-hour evening shift can be used exclusively for crowd control.
City officials are OK with fans filling the streets, up to a point.
"There's a 90-minute window as long as they're under control," Costa said. That means, fans can roam the streets for an hour-and-a-half after the game ends, as long as they don't become violent or start damaging property.
"If things get out of control, we'll ask people to go home and move on," Costa said. And when the 90 minutes is up, "We're going to remind people they have school and work tomorrow and to go home."
Any couches or other stuffed furniture seized from city porches will be stored until the Stanley Cup finals are over, whenever that is, Costa said. After that, residents can reclaim their furniture.
Costa said it's too early to tell how much the extra police and other precautions will cost the city. But he said amusement and other tax revenues generated by Game 5 alone are expected to be $250,000 and should more than cover the cost.
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