A recent U.S. intelligence report says no credible threat of terrorist attacks has been detected ahead of the National Football League's Super Bowl on Sunday in Tampa, Florida. But law enforcement officials say visitors will see the heavy security typical of every Super Bowl since the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
NFL vice president of security Milt Ahlerich says two years of preparation for Super Bowl 43 have paid off. "It gives us a very high level of confidence that our fans will be safe, our premier event will be safe, our teams will be safe. We will have a very successful event," he said.
The Super Bowl is an extremely visible U.S. event. On television, the game attracts one of the biggest audiences of the year. More than 100 million people in the United States are expected to watch at least part of the game. Viewers in 232 countries will also witness the Super Bowl.
Because of the high profile nature of the event, intelligence officials say they cannot discount the potential for a terrorist attack. They say terrorists see stadiums and arenas as potential targets.
Ahlerich says those conditions led the federal government to provide extra funding to the city of Tampa for security. "This request was made to the Department of Homeland Security. And the secretary of Homeland Security granted the request and designated Super Bowl 43 a level one national security event," he said.
Major John Bennett of the Tampa Police Department says trips to recent Super Bowls in Miami and Arizona helped Tampa police form their plan for Super Bowl 43. "From that journey we decided what our mission was. It was very clear, very simple. We were going to make a safe Super Bowl. We were going to use efficiency with our resources. And we were going to balance security with convenience," he said.
Security officials say the visible presence of hundreds of well-equipped officers, physical barriers and other measures likely will serve as effective deterrents to attack.
The Federal Aviation Administration will issue a temporary flight restriction in the area around the Tampa stadium on February first, although fans will still get to see a traditional flyover by military aircraft in formation before the game kicks off.