The internet is abuzz with football fans and music fans alike as Super Bowl LVII approaches. While many will be watching the game from home or local areas, there may be up to 73,000 people attending in person in Glendale, Arizona. With events this large it is of utmost importance to keep security considerations in mind.
Security Takes Center Stage
The Super Bowl has never experienced major shootings or terrorist attacks, a testament to how seriously officials take the security of the games. Annually the Department of Homeland Security and local police create a security plan and assess possible security risks. However, some smaller incidents have occurred.
- In 2022, on the day of Super Bowl 56, the San Francisco 49ers’ corporate IT network was hit by a cyberattack. The hacker group BlackByte posted stolen financial data onto the dark web.
- In 2014, at Superbowl 48, a fan managed to grab a microphone at a press conference and yell out “investigate September 11th, September 11th was perpetrated by people in our own government.” Police quickly arrested the perpetrator.
The Super Bowl faces three main threats: the possibility of cyber incidents, terrorist attacks, or lone wolf attacks.
- Cyber attacks: Major sporting events are a prime target for cybercriminals attempting to infect networks with ransomware, steal or leak data, or phishing campaigns. Hackers could also try to attack the stadium’s critical infrastructure such as ticketing machines, scorekeepers, and concession stands. Spectators should be wary of any suspicious links or emails sent from accounts that mirror NFL ticket vendors.
- Terrorist Attacks: As one of America’s largest and most attended sporting events, the Super Bowl is a major target for terrorists. Foreign and domestic terrorists could disrupt the event or potentially attempt to harm athletes and spectators in a major attack.
- Lone wolf attacks: Popular football athletes and their sponsors often take controversial political and social stances. In an era of increased disinformation and political polarization, people can become radicalized and triggered by such stances. A “lone wolf” style attacker could try to target the athletes over their political choices or use the game to bring attention to a certain cause.
Current Security Measures
In addition to State Farm Stadium’s standard security protocols, there are a number of areas in which Super Bowl LVII will see heightened security. Security screenings will begin at 12:30 pm for the 3:30 pm game. We encourage all attendees to be aware of the following:
- Bags: While not prohibited, bags are strongly discouraged. However, small clear plastic, vinyl, or PVC bags no more than 12”x6”x12” or clutches up to 4.5”x6.5” are allowed and subject to inspection. Additional details and restrictions can be found on the NFL’s bag policy page and exceptions will be made for medical equipment.
- Cameras: Cameras are prohibited and video recording devices are also not allowed. Cameras and small binoculars with a six-inch lens are acceptable.
- Large items: Large items that could compromise navigating around the stadium, such as chairs or strollers, are not allowed. Attendees assume responsibility for any items that do not pass security inspection. The State Farm Stadium, NFL, or Arizona Department of Public Safety do not offer storage. A list of all prohibited items can be found here.
- COVID-19: There are no mandatory vaccination or mask requirements in place but guests should exercise standard precautions.
There are several other considerations to keep in mind. Police and private security presence around many areas in Glendale will increase leading up to game day. Attendees should anticipate Traffic Management Initiatives on February 12 during heavy traffic periods. Additionally, there will be a temporary flight restriction in the Phoenix area on game day. As travel increases on game day, flight operators are instructed to file flight plans between six to 22 hours before their proposed time of departure.
Map of Downtown Phoenix with recommended Stadium routes – highlighted in green
If you or your clients are attending the Super Bowl and have any questions about security measures or have any travel concerns, please reach out to Concentric.
Authors: Sara Soomro, Concentric’s Intelligence Associate, Global Intelligence and Paul Gadalla, Intelligence Associate, Global Intelligence