For the last week or so, sports fans having been making the pilgrimage to this week’s sports mecca – Phoenix, Ariz. – to take in the excitement of a city that’s offering both the Waste Management Phoenix Open and Super Bowl XLIX. (And if you’re like Keegan Bradley, you’re trying to do both.)
The former isn’t nicknamed “The Wasted Management Open” for nothing; it’s a weekend of the best sports parties, and the Scottsdale Police Department is ready for potential challenges the events may bring.
“We knew it was going to be a big year with last year’s WMO numbers at their highest ever,” Sgt. Benjamin Hoster told Golf.com over the phone. “Months in advance, we put all hands on deck to up-staff the areas in and around the event.”
It’s a strategy that’s helped Scottsdale PD in the past. According to data provided by the department, 95 arrests were made at the 2014 Phoenix Open, almost half the amount made the year before. Hoster said those numbers, despite the 2014 edition having more attendees than 2013, were directly attributed to having officers in place to deter crime in the first place. That includes barring visibly intoxicated patrons from entering event venues and simply having more bodies around to deal with potential problems.
Scottsdale PD isn’t skimping on personnel this year especially, given that the Super Bowl will kick off less than an hour after the Phoenix Open concludes. With so many extra (fun-having) bodies in the city, Hoster said officers from neighboring communities are filling in the gaps to make sure everyday incidents aren’t left behind either.
Super Bowl aside, the Phoenix Open is expecting even more people than last year’s record-setting 563,008. Call it the “Tiger Effect.” According to ESPN’s Andy North, more 200,000 more tickets were sold after Tiger Woods committed to play the tournament for the first time in 14 years.
“We get a little more stressed with more people, cause all we’re concerned about is everyone’s welfare and that everyone has a good time,” Hoster said. “But we’re excited and ready for it, and we have a lot of help from our partners.”
And generally, a good time is had. The majority of arrests are misdemeanors relating to alcohol consumption, with very few cases resulting in any major injury or criminal behavior. The vast of those arrests occur on the Saturday of the tournament, and almost all of them occur either around the Bird’s Nest (a Coors Light-sponsored event venue adjacent to TPC Scottsdale), somewhere along the course perimeter, or most typically, the famous 16th hole.
Even with a forecast that calls for rain, Hoster is hesitant that any type of inclement weather will dampen anyone’s spirits — including his own.
“Personally, I’m more excited for the Open [than the Super Bowl],” Hoster said. “It truly is a great environment at the tournament. It’s a great time. It’s energetic. There’s just a different excitement around it.”