Larger crowds expected on the Red Mile as publicity for the Battle of Alberta grows

‘Now that it’s the Battle of Alberta, we’re pretty excited. I think it will be fun for the next 10 days’

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Calgary police expect more hockey fans on the Red Mile and across the city when the Calgary Flames take to the ice against the Edmonton Oilers this week for the first postseason Battle of Alberta in 31 years.

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Crowds along 17th Avenue SW, known as the Red Mile during the Flames’ playoff races, swelled during Calgary’s first-round matchup against the Dallas Stars, with thousands of fans flooding the road after the overtime victory. from the Sunday night series.

And those crowds are expected to grow starting Wednesday night, when the puck drops for Game 1 of the series.

“It is safe to assume that there will be an increase in fan volume and we hope everyone enjoys themselves and is respectful of the neighborhood, businesses and other participants,” police spokeswoman Lindsay Nykoluk said Monday.

“There are no plans for preventative road closures, but temporary closures after the game should be expected to facilitate a safe exit for pedestrians from the Stampede Grounds. Our plans and responses are flexible and determined by crowd dynamics in the interest of public safety.”

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A parking ban on 17th Avenue on game nights has been in effect, and police said the ban will likely extend from Macleod Trail to 9th Street SW this week, though details have yet to be finalized.

Police closed off parts of the street for hours after Sunday night’s game, as fans left the Stampede grounds and entered the Beltline. Documenting road closures on Twitter, Police Const. Chris Martin described the crowd as “large but joyful”.

Officers only issued one fine Sunday on the Red Mile, for stunting, as well as “dozens” of warnings. Police also assisted paramedics with two calls for scooter-related injuries.

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Meanwhile, the Calgary Parking Authority ticketed and towed about a dozen vehicles, and had more than 25 people voluntarily move their vehicles after receiving towing tickets.

The city agency said it will discuss changes to the Round 2 application in the coming days, but added no decisions have been made yet.

Calgary Mayor Jyoti Gondek said there is growing excitement during the playoff race and applauded fans for their conduct thus far.

“People have treated each other with respect and I think that’s what I’m looking for. That’s what all of Calgary and Edmonton are looking for,” Gondek said. “It’s a friendly rivalry that’s been going on for a long time, and let’s make sure we do it in the most amazing way possible so the kids, their families and all the fans can celebrate.”

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Fans in Calgary are raving about the series, including those who support the Oilers.

Manny Granado, who produces the OilersYYC podcast, said he was too young to remember the last Battle of Alberta in 1991. He said he had never had trouble as a fan in enemy territory before, but joked that tensions could rise this year.

“I get the typical trash talk from friends or random strangers, but there have been no issues. This year, I might have to be careful not to irritate a lot of Flames fans if I wear a jersey on the street,” Granado said, laughing.

“I think this is going to go all the way. It’s going to be exciting all around.”

Edmonton real estate agent Taylor Riar, who went viral for wearing an Oilers jersey and holding a sign reading “Anyone But Calgary” at a late-round game in Dallas, said he’s excited the matchup much hyped is now a reality.

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“It’s going to be good for the province, honestly,” Riar said. “Now that it’s the Battle of Alberta, we’re very excited. I think it’s going to be fun for the next 10 days, or whatever it ends up being.”

The Flames have yet to announce their Round 2 plans for the Red Lot, the garden party outside the Scotiabank Saddledome, though a team representative told Postmedia last week that those parties will continue as long as the Flames continue their run. playoffs.

After the 5,000-capacity event filled up quickly in previous games, the Flames required tickets to get into the lot for Sunday night’s Game 7 against the Stars. But all of those tickets were claimed within minutes of going online through Ticketmaster Sunday, and some reports emerged on social media of free ticket scalpers for profit.

Calgary Sports and Entertainment Corp. did not respond to a request for comment Monday.

jherring@postmedia.com

Twitter: @jasonfherring

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