By Mitch Stacy
TAMPA, Fla. — At least 20 federal agencies will help local police secure Raymond James Stadium for Sunday's Super Bowl, with duties ranging from protecting airspace and the port to arresting peddlers of counterfeit souvenirs, officials said Monday.
Because of the massive security effort, the stadium "is one of the safest locations you can possibly be on Super Bowl Sunday in the United States of America," said Milton E. Ahlerich, the NFL's vice president for security.
The heavy security will be typical of every Super Bowl since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, Ahlerich said at a news conference. There is no evidence of any nefarious plans by terrorists, he said, but the high profile of the game between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Arizona Cardinals makes it "an attractive target."
Officials declined to say how many personnel will be involved in protecting the stadium and fans.
The security plan has been nearly two years in the making.
Virginia O'Brien, special agent-in-charge of the Tampa office of Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, said some of the people working the game were also involved in last week's presidential inauguration in Washington and last year's World Series.
"Like every team that makes it to the Super Bowl, we've all been working together and we've been planning and training for almost two years to work together," O'Brien said.
Ahlerich cautioned fans to watch out for counterfeit tickets, which is a problem at every Super Bowl. They need to get to the game early and bring very little with them. Security will be similar to airports - long lines, metal detectors, a bag check and a pat-down.
Tampa police Maj. John Bennett noted that the city hosted the last Super Bowl before the 2001 terrorist attacks. The security plan and presence has had to change right along with the increased threat.
"The event has become so large and so glamorous, it just has a unique footprint that we didn't see in 2001," he said.