TAMPA, Fla. (Reuters) – At the stadium and behind the scenes, security officials in Tampa are bracing for a daunting range of potential threats to the Super Bowl this year, from COVID-19 and domestic terror attacks to unruly crowds cheering on their home team.
The National Football League championship, which requires security coordination from some 70 local, state and federal agencies, will be played under unprecedented threat conditions with a national domestic terrorism advisory in place following the U.S. Capitol siege on Jan. 6 and the COVID-19 pandemic raging. It will also be the first Super Bowl matchup featuring a team – the Tampa Bay Buccaneers – on its home turf.
Officials have been planning the event’s security for a year, according to FBI Special-Agent-in-Charge Michael McPherson, but recent political and public health crises and the cancellation of Super Bowl week events have caused the massive operation to adapt to a shifting threat picture.
Super Bowl LV is classified as a SEAR-1 event by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), meaning it receives the highest level of federal resources, including explosive detection canine teams, cyber risk assessments and air security.