UCLA Crowd Surge Sparks New Safety Protocol Amid Astroworld Aftermath

After a large group waiting outside of a UCLA basketball game turned into a mob, officials have added special guidelines

UCLA will have additional personnel to manage the line of fans entering Pauley Pavilion for its men’s basketball games, beginning with tonight’s game against Long Beach State.

Athletic director Martin Jarmond tweeted Saturday there would also be additional structures for a better controlled line in an attempt to avoid the surge that occurred Friday when fans waited for hours to enter Pauley Pavilion for game against Villanova, prompting fears of a deadly crush similar to what happened at the Astroworld festival in Houston Nov. 5, when 10 people suffered fatal injuries in a crush of fans after panic ripped through the crowd during rapper Travis Scott’s set.

The were no injuries reported in connection with Friday’s game, the first sellout for a UCLA basketball game at Pauley Pavilion since the Jan. 11, 2020, game against USC. Pauley Pavilion’s capacity is 13,659. There were about 50,000 people at the Astroworld festival.

In a tweet at 12:36 a.m. Saturday, Jarmond acknowledged “we were not adequately staffed” to handle the crowd. He apologized and pledged “it will be corrected moving forward.”

In a tweet at 1:02 p.m. Saturday, Jarmond apologized “to all our students and fans who had challenges with the line to enter the basketball game” and outlined specific actions, which also included a promise to “conduct a deep dive with our campus partners, including Den leadership and Student Affairs, regarding the distribution process of student tickets.”

“We have high expectations for our student and fan experience, and while the game was great, we didn’t meet those expectations for everyone,” Jarmond tweeted following second-ranked UCLA’s 86-77 overtime victory over the fourth-ranked Wildcats. “We will learn from this and get better.”

The student section at Pauley Pavilion is known as the Den and is overseen by the Den Operations Club, which seeks “to promote student sport culture on campus, enhance the in-game experience across sports, and increase student attendance in order to support Bruin teams and create memorable experiences for students,” according to its website.
Some students told the Los Angeles Times that staffing shortages were
exacerbated by people cutting in line Friday.

“It turned into mayhem,” senior political science and history major Tobias Sunshine told the Times. “As soon as people started to move, the whole crowd would move in waves. … People were getting pushed and crushed, yelling out, ‘Stop moving!'”

Second-year cognitive science major Hannah Masresha told the Daily Bruin, UCLA’s campus newspaper, the line turned chaotic when officials started handing out wristbands that reserved entry to the arena.

“When they started doing wristbands, everyone started running,” Masresha said. “Everyone just started running, and it’s kind of like, ‘Do you stay to your spot or do you just try to make it in because everyone else is cutting?’ So, we just joined the mosh pit.”

This story provided by City News Service. 

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