City, Police Say They’re Prepared for March Madness Flock Coming to Des Moines

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DES MOINES, Iowa -- Years of planning will be put to the test in three weeks when Des Moines hosts the NCAA men's basketball tournament. But the basketball court isn't the only place you can find a game-plan for March Madness.

“Between logistics of transportation hotels, the team functions, in-arena aspects, it’s definitely been a collaborative effort,” said Katie Fencl, director of sports for Greater Des Moines Convention and Visitors Bureau.

The police department will be providing a large downtown assist.

“One of the biggest challenges we have with this being at Wells Fargo is we are bringing thousands and thousands of people into a very dense area downtown,” said Des Moines Police Sgt. Paul Parizek.

Scouting has been key.

“We did have a team that went down to Omaha last year. We were able to witness what the police efforts were there and how they handled traffic flow and brought that info back to our police crew,” Fencl said.

Police are planning a full-court press of the downtown area. Parizek said one plan is in the works to have an officer on every corner between Wells Fargo and Court Avenue.

When it comes to the bill for extra policing, local businesses will largely take the charge.

“Majority of it is off-duty officers hired Wells Fargo and area hotels,” Parizek said.

Police escorts for teams will be commonplace, and in year’s past it’s even included referees.

“There are some security escorts that I wouldn’t expect a college team to need, but when you look at the scale, it’s a national event,” Parizek said.

With the game plan in hand, the ball is in Des Moines’ court.

“It’s definitely been something we have been working on for a long time and we feel like we have a good plan in place,” Fencl said.

“Our officers we love interacting. We want to make sure everyone leaves Des Moines with a great impression, and that includes the police department,” Parizek said.

It is still unknown at this point which teams will be playing in Des Moines. The Greater Des Moines Convention and Visitors Bureau has already designated eight hotels where the teams will stay.

It's all to help with the logistical planning ahead of time.

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