Super Bowl XLII is no usual game, so it’s no surprise this event is blanketed in unusually tight security.
Metal detectors, pat-downs, no-fly zones and a ban on grills at tailgate parties are just some of the measures that will be in place Sunday at University of Phoenix Stadium.
But the National Football League hopes attendees will focus less on these precautions, and more on the New England Patriots and New York Giants competing for a championship.
“We’ve worked hard to achieve a balance,” Milt Ahlerich, vice president of NFL security, said Monday. “This is really not the Super Bowl of security; this is a Super Bowl between two extraordinary teams that have worked very hard to be here.
“We want to fade into the background and not be what people worry about, think about.”
What the fans won’t see are brigades of law enforcement officers from dozens of agencies, municipal to federal, plus the league’s own security force. Headquarters for the week’s operations is the Arizona Veterans Memorial Coliseum.
Protecting the Super Bowl’s teams and fans always has been a large endeavor, but Ahlerich and other officials said the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, heightened the importance.
“The World Series that we hosted within a month after 9/11 was completely different than any of the security measures we had taken for any other major event that had occurred here in the Valley,” Phoenix police Chief Jack Harris said.
Since the days of heightened awareness, security for Super Bowls has “leveled off a little bit” with the exception of advancements in technology, Secret Service Special Agent Ken Huffer said.
On the day of the game, only people with tickets or credentials will be allowed within a security perimeter set up outside the stadium. This is where screenings will take place, and spectators who refuse consent for searches will be denied admission.
The NFL provided a lengthy list of items prohibited inside the stadium, and Ahlerich warned that there won’t be a place to check these goods for later pickup.
Above the venue, the Department of Defense and Immigrations and Customs Enforcement will be responsible for keeping all unauthorized aircraft outside a 10-mile radius. Also, any pilots within 30 miles of the stadium must follow an approved flight plan.
These restrictions will not affect commercial flights in and out of Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport, Huffer said.