How Villanova Is Preparing for the Wildcats’ Final Four Weekend
Villanova men’s basketball is making its triumphant return to the Final Four this weekend — its first visit since 2009. The Philly area is getting behind the team in preparation for its national semi-final matchup with the Oklahoma Sooners on Saturday.
Villanova students, alumni, and other fans of the basketball team don’t just root for the Wildcats — they go absolutely crazy for the blue and white. So a ‘Nova victory on Saturday night — and potentially another win in Monday’s National Championship game — could send the Main Line into a frenzy. Here’s how Villanova is preparing for this weekend:
Police Are Getting Ready for Epic Celebrations:
The Radnor Police Department is bracing for possible celebrations around the university on Saturday and Monday, according to Lt. Chris Flanagan. The department has had multiple meetings regarding procedures for facilitating safe celebrations in the event of one (or two!) Villanova wins this weekend, and Flanagan said that branches of the department that would normally work independently, as well as fire crews and EMS, will have to work together.
He stressed that the department wants people to celebrate a win and have fun, but there has to be appropriate behavior. The department can’t risk the safety of a large group because of one person acting out, Flanagan said. In other words, you can party like it’s 1985, but the police likely won’t be completely laissez-faire.
Flanagan said that the department gained experience with the kind of scene that could occur this weekend from students packing Lancaster Avenue following ‘Nova’s Elite Eight win over Pittsburgh back in 2009, which sent the team to its first Final Four since 1985’s championship run.
THROWBACK to celebrations on campus in 2009 when 'Nova was on their way to the Final Four -from Main Line Media News pic.twitter.com/gOMB8hJ65B
— The Villanovan (@TheVillanovan) March 30, 2016
As for potential road closures around the university, Flanagan said he does not anticipate any disruptions on Saturday, but the department is prepared for a temporary closure or gridlock of Lancaster Avenue on Monday due to large crowds celebrating. In that case, there will be detour routes posted to help drivers avoid the chaos.
The Radnor PD will employ the National Incident Management System — “a systematic, proactive approach to guide departments and agencies at all levels of government, nongovernmental organizations, and the private sector to work together seamlessly and manage incidents involving all threats and hazards,” according to FEMA’s website. In order to meet the demands of a celebration while also not disrupting its service to other residents, the police department is increasing its personnel by bringing in outside agencies, as well as upping the number of officers on duty.
Of course, if the ‘Cats fall (God forbid) to the Sooners on Saturday, there will be no celebrations for police to monitor, but that’s not stopping them from preparing. “We have to plan like Monday’s happening,” Flanagan said.
On-Campus Security Is Beefing Up:
Debra Patch, Villanova’s Associate Director of Public Safety, said the safety of all students will be her department’s foremost focus this weekend. Increased numbers of public safety officers will patrol campus on foot and bikes, she said, and inappropriate behavior will be addressed — namely vandalism, destruction of property, and throwing objects.
As for drinking, which may or may not be part of a massive celebration by students, Patch said it won’t be ignored. But public safety officers on campus will not be actively searching out offenders, she said.
Patch remembers students being generally responsible during their 2009 celebrations when ‘Nova advanced to the Final Four. She added that a video message from coach Jay Wright will be sent to students today, encouraging them to celebrate responsibly.
Increased ResLife and Public Safety presence on West Campus on Saturday pic.twitter.com/Dxt1EEkzMT
— The Villanovan (@TheVillanovan) March 31, 2016
In an email to students, university president Peter Donohue wrote that the school is “working closely with both the Radnor Township and Delaware County officials (police, fire and EMS) to provide extra security on campus.” Donohue added that postgame access to campus could be restricted on Saturday.
Philly Is Getting Behind the Wildcats:
As the ‘Cats battle Oklahoma for a trip to the National Championship game at 6 p.m. Saturday, Philadelphia landmarks will don Villanova’s colors. Donohue wrote that the Ben Franklin Bridge, One and Two Liberty Place, the Wells Fargo Center and the PECO building will brightly wear blue-and-white. The Cira Centre will also bear the school’s blue “V” logo, and the airport will run “Good Luck Villanova” ads on screens throughout its seven terminals.
However, not all Philadelphians are all into the idea of a Center City parade to celebrate a championship. After all, the school isn’t located in Philadelphia, a point that’s been cited in the pesky debate over a parade. Brian Hickey of PhillyVoice.com sees a Main Line parade as the best alternative — an option that doesn’t require Philadelphians’ tax dollars.
Mayor Jim Kenney refused to shackle Villanova with any bad luck with premature talk of celebration and a parade.
Bars and Other Venues Are Gearing Up to Show the Game:
- Students are invited to pack the Connelly Center on campus for a game watch starting at 5:30 p.m.
- Kelly’s Taproom in Bryn Mawr, a staple of Villanova, is expected to fill its three-level facility with rowdy fans come game time.
- Maloney’s Pub in Bryn Mawr — a favorite of ‘Nova students — is offering a $20 open bar for the duration of the game.
- Game watches for alumni and fans are taking place all over the country; check them out here.
Villanova’s game against Oklahoma tips off at 6:09 p.m. on Saturday and will be broadcast on TBS. If you prefer to stay in, you can watch the game on NCAA March Madness Live (with your cable log-in) or using the NCAA March Madness Live app.
Follow @BrettMKlein on Twitter.