PHOENIX -- The police agencies responsible for patrolling
the Super Bowl say they're not aware of any threat so far to the
biggest single-day sporting event in the country, but they've
organized a massive build up of security just in case.
FBI Special Agent John Lewis said Monday that authorities have
heard only "what I would call fairly routine, very small incoming
complaints about somebody wanting to do this or that.
"That's very typical in these types of cases," he said.
Nevertheless, with millions of people focused on the Super Bowl
in Glendale, federal security officials have again designated the
game a "level one" special event, just below President Bush's
State of the Union address.
This year's Super Bowl festivities also will be complicated by
another major sporting event, the FBR Open golf tournament, going
on simultaneously in Scottsdale. Security agencies have been
meeting for 15 months to ensure that they keep an organized watch
over the entire metro area this week.
Glendale Police Lt. Matt Apodaca said more than 800 officers
from numerous city agencies will patrol a 2-square-mile security
zone around the University of Phoenix Stadium. Apodaca said
officers on horseback, on foot and in motorized carts will mingle
with fans who are attending the game and the NFL Experience, a
weeklong festival nearby.
The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives will
bring packs of Labrador retrievers that are trained to sniff out
compounds that are common among most explosives.
"We bring in our dogs because they are, quite frankly, the best
in the federal government," ATF Special Agent Tom Mangan said.
Police also have installed security cameras throughout the
stadium area. Overhead, U.S. Customs and Border Protection aircraft
will circle the sky and give authorities a birds-eye view of what's
U.S. Customs will intercept any threat from the air with
Blackhawk helicopters and Citation jets based at Davis-Monthan Air
Force Base, about 100 miles to the south in Tucson, said Ken
Huffer, the Secret Service special agent in charge in Phoenix.
Huffer said federal authorities will enforce a 30-mile no-fly
zone around the stadium below 22,000 feet on game day.
The no-fly zone overlaps with Phoenix Sky Harbor International
Airport, but Huffer said commercial pilots have been notified and
should be able to work around the new security limits.
"I can assure you that there will be no interference with
scheduled commercial aircraft," Huffer said.
Security officers will be feeding information to a Joint
Operations Center in downtown Phoenix. Federal officials, along
with representatives of police and fire departments, opened the
center this week.
Arizona Department of Public Safety Commander Mike Orose, the
liaison between local public safety agencies and the NFL, said the
center will help distribute rescue crews in case there is an
If there is a bomb threat, an ATF response vehicle will be
standing by near the stadium to analyze any possible explosive.
Security officials say they hope fans won't notice most of their
efforts. But people attending the Super Bowl likely will have to
deal with more restrictions than they're used to during the regular
Super Bowl officials said they will prohibit fans from entering
the stadium with anything larger than a small purse or bag. They
also won't allow any binocular and camera cases.
Pregame tailgaters also will be forbidden from much of the
festivities they're used to.
Fans will be allowed to tailgate near their vehicles with their
own food and drinks, but they won't be allowed to have grills.
They're also not allowed to park in more than one parking spot or
pitch tents in the parking lot.
Orose said authorities started working on security plans for the
Super Bowl in November 2006.
They used this year's Fiesta Bowl as a dress rehearsal. "Our
planning process, communications, the joint operations center -- it
was really a whole combination of things that we wanted to test
out," Orose said.
Orose said a joint operations center will be especially
necessary for this year's Super Bowl because of the FBR Open and
because the Super Bowl events are spread throughout the metro area.
The only comparable sporting event after the Sept. 11, 2001,
terrorist attacks was the 2001 World Series in Phoenix, Orose said.
That was a huge event and had a lot of media coverage, but it
occurred in just one location, Orose said. "The NFL and the Super
Bowl is a weeklong event with a series of activities taking place
across the" Phoenix area.