Pittsburgh to close streets after game


Published: Sunday, February 1, 2009 at 6:03 p.m.
Last Modified: Sunday, February 1, 2009 at 6:03 p.m.

PITTSBURGH Hundreds of Pittsburgh Steelers fans decked out in black and gold jerseys got into the Super Bowl spirit early Sunday, filling the city streets and bars in anticipation of the NFL title game against the Arizona Cardinals.

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Pittsburgh Steelers fans sing and chant ini support for the city's NFL football team during a pep rally in downtown Pittsburgh, Thursday, Jan. 29, 2009. The Steelers face the Arizona Cardinals in Super Bowl XLIII on Sunday in Tampa.

Keith Srakocic/The Associated Press

People sporting team paraphernalia strolled down Carson Street on the city's South Side while others shouted "Here we go Steelers, Here we go!" as car horns tooted in sync. Others played Steelers fan songs from cars and buildings.

Bars were packed in the area popular with college students and the 20-something crowd, with music blaring and pregame shows on televisions. Many bars had lines of customers waiting to get in, while others turned people away. Some planned to close at 6 p.m., about 30 minutes before kickoff in Tampa.

Jason Miller, 34, and about 20 friends crowded into South Side 86, a bar owned by Steelers wide receiver Hines Ward. The group included Timothy Grimm, who lives in the Dallas area but spent about $400 to fly back, saying it wouldn't be the same watching the game there.

Miller, a social studies teacher from suburban Pittsburgh, said he expected a long night if the Steelers win their unprecedented sixth Super Bowl title. He joked that he might "run through the streets" after a victory, but added that he did not believe fans would misbehave.

"Steeler fans will have a good time," he said. "I don't think they're going to light anything on fire. I don't think they're going to do anything. Pittsburgh's finest is pretty tough."

When the Steelers last won the Super Bowl in 2006, thousands of drunken fans celebrated in the streets and several small fires were set.

Pittsburgh police hoped to deter potential mayhem by putting more than 400 officers on patrol, limiting parking and closing some streets to traffic at the start of the fourth quarter in areas with numerous bars and restaurants. In the Strip District, another popular area with bars and restaurants, several streets were barricaded before the game began.

Miller said he lined up outside the bar about 20 minutes before the noon opening and there were already about 50 people ahead of him.

"If you walk down Carson Street, I didn't see anyone without a jersey on. Unless they were running," he said. At least one person, however, out for a run under sunny blue skies and temperatures in the high 40s was sporting Steelers garb.

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