Security changes for Indy 500 and Pacers game

Hundreds of thousands of fans will fill IMS on race day Sunday afternoon.
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Safety for an international event like the Indy 500 is planned well in advance.

However, those plans are constantly changed and updated, depending on what's happening the day of the race.

For the first time since 2004, a Pacers playoff game falls on the same day as the Indy 500 in Indianapolis. Public safety leaders told Eyewitness News they plan to make changes to their plans Monday due to the extra event in Indianapolis the same day as the race.

More than 250,000 people can fill the Indianapolis Motor Speedway grandstands. With the infield packed of race fans, it's estimated that 400,000 people can be a part of the 500-mile race.

The Department of Public Safety is one of the agencies that must make sure fans are safe.

"We have to be prepared from everything from man-made incident to weather related incident," said Director Troy Riggs.

Riggs said while they've been tweaking their public safety plan nearly every week leading up to Sunday's Indianapolis 500, the Pacers' latest win means there will be changes to that plan.

On Monday, members of the Pacers, Indianapolis Motor Speedway, IMPD, the Indianapolis Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Public Safety met to discuss updated safety plans for the busy weekend.

Fans will notice more uniformed officers both at the track and downtown. Horse patrols, SWAT team vehicles, and the Indianapolis Metro Police Department's six bomb squad robots will be ready to go.

Police Chief Rick Hite told Eyewitness News officers from local departments and private security firms will help with both events.

"We will have more than we need. I promise you that," Hite said.

"A lot of things are done behind the scenes. We don't talk about security, but right now, there are no threats to Indy. No threats to venues. We always plan for a worst case scenario," added Public Safety Director Troy Riggs.

One plan is certain: The Indiana Pacers will host the Miami Heat Sunday at 8:30 p.m. inside Bankers Life Fieldhouse.

Of course, weather can always delay the Indianapolis 500, which is why public safety leaders told Eyewitness News they will plan out for that busy scenario.

"Then you have to make some decisions about shifting personnel if need be," answered Riggs.

With two big events happening in Indianapolis the same day, Riggs said they will make sure resources aren't spread too thin.

Ironically, the last time a home Pacers playoff game and the Indy 500 fell on the same day it was a worst case scenario situation in 2004. A rain delay at the track pushed back the race. When fans took off for the game downtown, a tornado was a few miles south of the city.

"Do we evacuate? Do we shelter in place? What's the best decision-making model at each event, no matter what is going on?" said Gary Coons, chief of Indiana's Homeland Security Department.

Eyewitness News got a chance to check out a computer animation of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in the situation room of Indiana's Homeland Security Department. The animation shows where people would likely go during an evacuation.@