Officials: More than 25,000 people expected to travel to downtown Columbia for NCAA tournament

Officials: More than 25,000 people expected to travel to downtown Columbia for NCAA tournament

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - The City of Columbia is anticipating more than 25,000 people will descend on downtown Columbia this weekend as the city plans host to its first NCAA tournament since 1970.

Team practices and fan activities are slated to begin on Thursday as people arrive in Columbia ahead of Friday’s full slate of first round action. To accompany the influx in visitors, the Columbia Police Department is enlisting the help of Highway Patrol and University of South Carolina Police.

“We will have very high visibility. You’ll see a lot of police at traffic checkpoints and designated lanes for bus shuttles going to and from the venue,” Columbia Police Chief Skip Holbrook said.

Holbrook said, in addition to on-duty officers, many off-duty officers will be stationed around the downtown area near venues and restaurants to oversee crowds. Traffic checkpoints and shuttle pick-up and drop-off zones will likely cause delays and Holbrook encourages drivers to exercise patience.

“If they’ve got questions, always reach out and grab a police officer and ask,” he said. “We expect them to be ambassadors for our city this weekend and they’ll help people get where they’re going safely.”

Colonial Life Arena will be aided by contracted security outside the venue, where the clear bag policy will be in effect.

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