Having lived in Minneapolis the last time the city hosted a Super Bowl, the inevitable chaos associated with orchestrating the game is relatively familiar.
Super Bowl XXVI was held in 1992 in the Twin Cities’ since-demolished Metrodome. Seemingly endless fan-friendly activities marked the days leading up to the event, which the favored Washington Redskins won by defeating the Buffalo Bills 37-24.
Infrastructure demands on Minneapolis this week have been significant; as a small market compared to Super Bowl sites of the past, there’s a shortage of hotels, cabs, flights, parking and other necessities.
That was true of 1992 as well. College students (classes were an afterthought that week) profited by providing rides for visitors — well before the advent of Uber and Lyft — and many locals rented out their apartments and homes at jaw-dropping prices.
But there’s at least one glaring difference this year. Although precautions were taken 26 years ago as well, in an unfortunate sign of the times, security this time around has been taken to an unprecedented level.
• • •
“(It’s) an enormously complex effort involving hundreds of officers from 60 police departments across the state, 40 federal agencies and related offices, 400 members of the Minnesota National Guard, and private contractors,” read a Star Tribune story. It’s the largest security detail ever deployed in Minnesota, the story said, and Super Bowl history.
“This is a high-profile event with a lot of visibility, not just in the United States but all over the world,” Tim Bradley, security expert with IMG GlobalSecur, said in the article. “So it’s an attractive target in that sense. However, the amount of security makes it less attractive for someone who wants to launch an attack.”
Chain-link fencing and concrete barriers surround the new U.S. Bank Stadium. An Associated Press story said visitors also could expect increased police patrols, bomb-sniffing dogs and officers in tactical gear. Being an urban site makes security even more challenging; it’s easier to police open areas and parking lots than downtown obstructions.
“Closed-circuit cameras and air particle sensors will be operating behind the scenes,” the story read. “Giant machines are being used to scan shipments to the stadium. Extra security cameras will be sprinkled around the city.”
Helicopters this week provided security and geographical surveys of the area. Planning for the event began two years ago.
• • •
“It requires tremendous teamwork and cooperation to pull everything together into a unified whole,” said Richard Thornton, special agent in charge for the FBI’s Minneapolis Division, in a news release from the agency.
Security concerns don’t only pertain to terror acts. Fights, DUIs, human trafficking and other worries come into play. But the Minneapolis Police Department’s Scott Gerlicher, overall public safety coordinator for the event, was reassuring. The MPD is the lead security agency for the Super Bowl.
“I think we have done our best to think of just about every contingency, natural or manmade,” Gerlicher said in the FBI release.
It’s unfortunate that a sporting event requires such security measures, but sometime after the confetti settles on a new Super Bowl champion at U.S. Bank Stadium, life will return to normal for local residents, visiting fans and the law enforcement agencies tasked with protecting them.
We may support different teams during the NFL’s regular season and some will root against each other this Sunday, but all of us can pull for a safe and entertaining Super Bowl LII in the Twin Cities.