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Tight Security Surrounds Sunday's Super Bowl - 2004-01-31

Spectators for Sunday's National Football League Super Bowl championship game in Houston are being asked to arrive three hours before kickoff to make sure they have enough time to get through security.

Both teams in this year's Super Bowl, the New England Patriots and Carolina Panthers, have good defenses. But there will also be a top defense protecting the teams and spectators here on Sunday.

The stadium will be covered by about 5,000 security people from 25 government agencies. That makes it one of the most heavily protected one-day event in the world. But it's seen as a necessity because it's considered a prime potential terrorist target. The NFL says it tries to get the best security it can without a hassle for fans.

There will be a 12-hour no-fly zone over Houston's Reliant Stadium, with all aircraft banned from the area. A huge chain link fence surrounds the stadium, and key streets will be closed off to prevent unsecured vehicles from approaching the scene. About 90 metal detectors will be used.

Big Super Bowl parties at various locations before and after the game also take precautions. Corky McKeon is with Blue Moon Investigations, a private security firm.

"Our security division has been booked up for the whole week since the Super Bowl thing has gotten started here," he said.

In recent months, many police and firefighters were given terrorism response training lessons and drills. A number of police will be in street attire.

For the most part, the players don't seem too concerned about their safety. With two weeks since their last playoff game, the New England Patriots and Carolina Panthers are just anxious for Sunday's Super Bowl kickoff to see which will be crowned this season's NFL champion.