Traffic downtown

Fans leaving the Navy vs. Ohio State football game at M&T Bank Stadium merge with traffic to and from the new Horseshoe Casino Baltimore on Russell Street. (Kenneth K. Lam, Baltimore Sun / August 30, 2014)

Usually awash with Orioles and Ravens fans, South Paca Street became a sea of scarlet and gray Saturday afternoon.

Hundreds of Ohio State University fans filled Pickles Pub, Sliders Bar & Grille and The Bullpen to celebrate after the fifth-ranked Buckeyes beat the Navy Midshipmen at M&T Bank Stadium.

Many of the 57,579 fans who left the stadium about 3:30 p.m. headed to bars as others tossed footballs and drank cold drinks in the parking lots. Hundreds of others streamed toward the newly opened Horseshoe Casino Baltimore.

The trifecta of events brought thousands to the football game and to Camden Yards for the Orioles game at 7:05 p.m. Fans for both games also battled traffic from gamblers going to the casino, which opened Tuesday.

In order to clear parking lots for baseball fans, security guards on golf carts rolled through lots about 4:30 p.m. to urge football fans to pack up their tailgate parties. Dozens of police officers and traffic controllers kept cars flowing into all three venues.

Willie Earl Bates, along with his wife and daughter, traveled from Memphis to cheer for both the Midshipmen and Buckeyes.

Bates sported a button on his chest with a picture of his son, Roman, who played running back for Ohio State and graduated in 1987. He died last year at 49 from a heart attack. Next to Bates stood his grandson, Jerry Thompson, a freshman cornerback for the Midshipmen.

Bates and his wife, Jo Ellen, and their daughter, Patrice Thompson, all said they didn't want to miss Roman's former team battle the Midshipmen.

Although Jerry Thompson wasn't active with football team Saturday, he stood at attention in his white uniform as his grandfather talked about the former Buckeye players who recognized Roman Bates on the button.

"His spirit exists," Bates said, smiling.

The party atmosphere from the game carried over into a line of about 200 fans waiting to reclaim their bags at a free bag check along the Ravens Walk between Camden Yards and M&T Bank Stadium.

A policy announced by the NFL last year prevents fans from carrying most bags into the stadium unless they are made of clear material. Some fans didn't know about the policy on Saturday, but the line evaporated in 20 minutes.

Anthony Finn of Gaithersburg needed about an extra 15 minutes to get past the traffic by the stadium and casino on South Russell Street. Heavy traffic earlier in the week caused his friends to be late for baseball games, he said.

The Orioles' season-ticket holder said he left early Saturday so he wouldn't miss the first pitch, adding: "Everything was fine."

Zach Stearns and Andy Paparem traveled from Cincinnati to root for the Buckeyes. Both men boasted about the good time they had before and after the game.

"It's a great area," Paparem said as he left Pickles Pub.

But both of the 2013 Ohio State graduates had one complaint about their trip to the Charm City: They wished the bars were between the stadiums.

mpuente@baltsun.com