State Farm Stadium will serve as the site for Super Bowl LVII on Sunday in Glendale, Ariz. Photo by John Angelillo/UPI | License Photo
PHOENIX. Feb. 7 (UPI) -- Phoenix already welcomed near-record crowds this week, and the desert flood likely will continue leading up to Sunday's Super Bowl LVII. The NFL and law enforcement planned for 22 months to entertain and protect fans.
State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Ariz., is the game site, but hundreds of thousands of fans are expected to fill the Valley of the Sun for other game-related activities.
"This job is really special," Jon Barker, the NFL's vice president of live event production and operations, said Tuesday at State Farm Stadium. "We don't [just] produce Super Bowls. We are making sure that they're protected. "We're making sure that we're meeting fans' expectations."
Phoenix will host its fourth Super Bowl and second since 2015. Tickets for Sunday's game were listed from roughly $3,600 to more than $33,000 -- with one suite listed for $418,000 -- as of Tuesday afternoon on the secondary market.
Those prices will lead many fans to watch the game in restaurants throughout the Phoenix area. The Super Bowl LVII host committee estimates an economic impact of more than $500 million into Phoenix, Scottsdale, Mesa and other nearby communities thanks to the influx of visitors.
The Phoenix Convention Center is the site for the Super Bowl Experience, an annual amusement park the NFL builds in each host city. That event features games, concerts, food and autograph opportunities.
NFL vice president of events Peter O'Reilly told reporters Monday that the Super Bowl Experience drew 70,000 visitors last weekend, the second-highest total ever.
Tamra Ingersoll, the public information manager at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport, told UPI that officials anticipate the largest crowds of the year on the day after the big game, with more than 180,000 expected to pass through Monday.
More than 200 countries are set to broadcast the game. Audiences watching on TV probably won't see the overwhelming law enforcement presence tasked with keeping the area safe.
"An event like this is safe and secure because everyone works together -- federal, state, local, tribal, law enforcement, fire personnel and emergency responders," Alejandro Mayorkas, secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, said at a news conference Tuesday at the Phoenix Convention Center.
More than 40 federal, state and local law enforcement agencies, including about 800 federal personnel, are a part of the security effort in the Phoenix area.
Many undercover officers are in place to monitor crimes, including human trafficking. Public safety officials will monitor Super Bowl activity with a physical presence and in cyberspace to fend off potential threats.
No-drone zone are in place for areas associated with Super Bowl LVII events. A no-fly zone will be in place around Glendale on game day.
But, according to the NFL, the U.S. Navy will conduct a flyover of State Farm Stadium during the national anthem, with female aviators as part of the formation to commemorate 50 years of women flying for that branch of the armed forces.
Security, though, remains a top priority.
"We don't just walk in with a template, we sit with our partners, look at the threats that are out there and use the best, most sophisticated security technology we can to provide a safe and welcoming environment for people," said Cathy Lanier, the Kansas City Chiefs' security officer.
Lanier said there are no "known, specific credible threats" to the game or related events. She would not elaborate on fine details of the high-tech equipment officials are using to determine that, but did say law enforcement will deploy the "most advanced technology in the security world."
The Department of Homeland Security has given Super Bowls its highest-risk designation level (SEAR 1) for more than two decades.
Lanier said the robust security team also has a "plan in place" to preserve the integrity of a new wrinkle in the Super Bowl fabric: a sportsbook on site.
The BetMGM Sportsbook is situated just a short walk from the walls of State Farm Stadium. Fans also will be able to place bets on their phones while inside the facility. Additional sites -- operated by FanDuel and Caesars -- are in downtown Phoenix.
"We knew it would be here in advance," Lanier said. "The NFL is invested heavily in game integrity. We have a plan in place. We are not concerned about the sports book."
More than 70,000 fans are expected to attend the game. Barker said another 45,000 people received credentials to work this week.
"We really have to take care of preparing," Barker said. "It took 22 months to fully prepare for everything, from parking, transportation, outside building changes, campus building and all across the valley area, in Tempe, Mesa, North Phoenix, Glendale and [other local cities]."
Barker said employees will start to arrive about 4 a.m. MST Sunday and won't leave until 2 a.m. Monday.
Many workers will be on site Tuesday, using drills and construction equipment to build temporary entry systems in the parking lot and multi-level control centers inside the facility.
Preparation on the ground level also was a major undertaking, according to NFL field surface director Nick Pappas. He said close to 1 million pounds of grass was installed at State Farm Stadium. That grass was grown at a farm in Scottsdale specifically for the Super Bowl.
More than 500 rolls of sod, measuring about 3 1/2 feet wide and 40 feet long, were trucked into the stadium and installed over three days last month.
"I think the uniqueness of Super Bowls in general is just the amount that people put into it, Pappas said. "There's so much that goes into this. It's a large production. ... It seems like each year, the Super Bowl continues to grow, the game grows and more people want to tune in.
"It continues to get magnified. But for us, we know what we've got to do."
Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes speaks to the media at the Super Bowl LVII Opening Night event at the Footprint Center in Phoenix on February 6, 2023. The Kansas City Chiefs will will play the Philadelphia Eagles in Super Bowl LVII at State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Ariz., on February 12. Photo by John Angelillo/UPI | License Photo