The United Center closed Monday evening when fights broke out during the West Haven Safe Summer League championship game between neighborhood teams made up of players from two of the city’s top high school basketball teams.
At 5:09 p.m., United Center security canceled the event, which included a game between teams featuring players from Orr Academy and Curie Metropolitan high schools, due to public safety concerns, police said.
Free tickets were provided to the event, which is normally held at West Side high schools near the United Center. Security had to close the doors after nearly 10,000 people showed up.
“We had almost 10,000 people show up for the first game, the grammar school game,” said Lefty B. Boyd, the organizer of the West Haven Summer League since 1995. “I didn’t expect that crowd, it kind of scared me. Last year, we had 7,700—the biggest crowd we have ever had. It was scary, knowing what happened at the McDonald’s game.”
Fans who were kicked out were met with angry fans outside who were unable to get in, according to a source inside the United Center.
“It was a madhouse,” Orr coach Lou Adams said. Adams said his players made it out safe and that he isn’t ever taking his team back there.
Curie coach Mike Oliver confirmed that his players also safely exited the United Center.
There have been reports of fights at most of the summer basketball events this season, including the shoe company-sponsored Chi League.
“I’m old-school, doing things that way,” Boyd said. “They don’t do things like we did. It’s just a different time. This is something I do to save kids during the summer time. But now the trouble is happening in the gym. The kids are starting the trouble. So what do you do? I’ll be right back at it next year. It’s just what I do.”