Planning for the Minnesota Super Bowl in 2018:
An Update from the Minneapolis Police Department

Guest column by Commander Scott Gerlicher, Minneapolis PD

It’s still 2 ½ years away, but initial planning is underway for the Super Bowl to be held at the new U. S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis in early February 2018. The Super Bowl is much more than a single event, but is a week-long series of events and parties which will take place not only in the City of Minneapolis, but in other neighboring cities. Although the MPD is the lead local agency for public safety planning, there is no single agency that is equipped to organize and staff an event of this size and scope alone. Hundreds of law enforcement officers will be required to staff and secure the various events throughout the week.

Minnesota law enforcement is very fortunate to have a long history of successfully working together on other high profile events and emergency situations including the 2007 35W Bridge Collapse in Minneapolis, the 2008 Republican National Convention in St. Paul, and most recently, the 2014 Major League All Star Game in Minneapolis. All of these events were a success in large part due to metro and statewide law enforcement collaboration with resources brought in from the local, county and state level. This experience will help us as we prepare for yet another high profile event. We will once again ask for and rely upon on our law enforcement partners for assistance with the Super Bowl in 2018.

In preparation for Super Bowl 52 in 2018, we have worked with Glendale, AZ authorities on their experiences this past February at the 2015 Super Bowl. We will also learn from San Francisco who will be hosting the upcoming 2016 Super Bowl as well as Houston who host this event in 2017. We hope to observe and learn from their experiences. In each case, the public safety operation has, or is planned to be a regional response from law enforcement. In Minneapolis in 2018, we are planning for this same type of public safety operation which will involve a unified command structure consistent with National Incident Management System (NIMS).

The Super Bowl is an event which will showcase not only the City of Minneapolis but the entire State of Minnesota (In spite of it being February in MN!). Our goal is to involve law enforcement agencies from around the area, to assist us with the public safety operation and also to showcase our strong and cooperative Minnesota law enforcement partnership. We can’t do it without your help.

The Super Bowl is one of the highest profile events we could host in our area. The 2015 Super Bowl was the most watched television broadcast in U.S. history and was broadcast in nearly 200 Countries worldwide and in 25 languages. Typically, the Super Bowl has been designated as a Level One SEAR (Special Event Assessment Rating) Event which is determined by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security based on a number of factors including: anticipated attendance by dignitaries, size of the event, significance of the event, duration of the event, availability of state and local resources, and multiplicity of jurisdictions (needed coordination). We expect this same designation to be placed on the 2018 Super Bowl in Minnesota. This designation means that additional Federal resources are made available to our area as well as Federal involvement and authority in the public safety planning and response. Responsibility for management of the actual public safety “boots on the ground” operations still however, rests with local law enforcement.

In 2018, we can expect to see thousands of visitors to the Twin Cities metropolitan area for all of the events, parties and activities, culminating with the Super Bowl itself.

The MPD has already been working with the Minnesota Super Bowl Host Committee on initial plans and structure for our public safety operation. We have also submitted a budget to the host committee outlining resources (personnel and equipment) which we believe we will need to manage an event of this magnitude and complexity. In the case of the 2015 Super Bowl in Arizona, many of these costs were absorbed by participating law enforcement agencies. Part of the role of the host committee is to raise private funds to help offset the many expenses required not just from a public safety perspective, but from all perspectives in order to host a Super Bowl.

In 2018, preliminary plans call for converting Nicollet Mall in Downtown Minneapolis to a Super Bowl Boulevard with tents and interactive games and activities, utilizing the Minneapolis Convention Center for an NFL Experience weeklong event, utilizing the area just outside U.S. Bank Stadium for an NFL Tailgate Party, not to mention dozens of other NFL sanctioned events and private parties throughout the week including some of which are planned for St. Paul and Bloomington and all of which would require a public safety presence.

In addition to gathering as much information as we can from other jurisdictions which have recently or will soon be hosting a Super Bowl, the MPD has put together a training plan for our staff in order to better prepare for any contingency which could arise. As we move forward, we will be reaching out to our law enforcement partners to offer some of this training which would be provided at no cost other than staff time to attend. Much of the training involves response to scenarios and incidents which we could face both from a first responder level, but also from a command and incident management perspective.

We have sent all of our supervisory staff to NIMS 300 and 400 sponsored by the State of MN Homeland Security and Emergency Management (HSEM) so that they are accustomed to using this nationally recognized incident management system. This is training that is not only useful for an event such as the Super Bowl, but for any emergency situation or event we may face as law enforcement. We will also be hosting some courses in partnership with Louisiana State University/Texas A&M University (LSU/TEEX) who are under contract with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to provide no cost training to law enforcement on topics such as: Active Shooter Response, Improvised Explosive Device (IED) Response, EOC/Incident Command Interface, Advanced Incident Command, Integrated Emergency Management, and Critical Decision Making for Complex Coordinated Attacks to name a few. We want to invite all of our law enforcement partners who would expect to have a significant role in the public safety operation to participate in these training offerings over the next two years.

As we get closer to the events, we will also host and participate in a number of tabletop and practical exercises to assure that we all have a clear understanding of how to respond to any emergency or critical incident that could occur. Many of these will be in partnership with Federal agencies which will have a significant presence during Super Bowl week.

Another part to our initial planning process has been to identify public safety Planning Resource Groups for the various aspects of the safety and security operation. Groups will range from credentialing, radio communications, cyber security, official escorts, downtown beats, stadium security, tactical response, off duty employment and many others. We expect to identify over 30 such resource planning groups. Stakeholders for each area will be identified and groups will then work together and develop specific operational plans for their specific area(s), which will then become part of a comprehensive public safety operations plan. A core planning group will then assist with staffing and logistics associated with each aspect of the public safety plan. Our law enforcement community has a wealth of experience and expertise in this type of planning which we hope to tap into as we develop and ultimately execute our public safety plans.

Planning in earnest will begin about 18 months prior to the Super Bowl, around this time next year. At that time, the MPD will designate some full time staff to the Core Planning Group who will help facilitate and coordinate public safety plans. We will also be putting together a Public Safety Executive Advisory Committee of select agency heads at the local, county and state level along with federal partners, NFL representatives, and Host Committee representatives. This group would review public safety plans, help in securing needed resources, liaison with elected officials and others and assure all participating agencies understand and are comfortable with the public safety operational plans.

At this time, we are not making any requests but we felt it would be helpful to give all MN law enforcement leaders a heads up as to what we are planning for February 2018 and to thank you for your past partnership in managing major events and emergencies in our area.

On behalf of MPD Chief Janee’ Harteau we also want to thank you in advance for your willingness to help our area showcase our strong Minnesota law enforcement partnership in 2018 as we develop, plan for, and execute one of the largest events our State will hold.

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Commander Scott Gerlicher, Minneapolis Police Department
Public Safety Coordinator - Super Bowl 52
[email protected]