Sixteen months before a Super Bowl lands in Minneapolis in 2018, the city already has allocated hundreds of thousands of dollars for security, and millions more could be spent on public safety for one of the world's most high-profile events.
The law enforcement presence will rival the heavy security that surrounded the Republican National Convention held in St. Paul in 2008 and will dwarf the public safety operations that surrounded the Super Bowl in 1992, the last time it was held here.
Minneapolis Police Cmdr. Scott Gerlicher, who is overseeing police operations for the Super Bowl, stresses that he plans to promote "family-friendly interaction" between police and the public in keeping with the festive nature of the event. But security precautions will be intense.
"You've got public safety, you've got terrorism, you have human trafficking, you have professional criminals who come every year," says Erroll Southers, an adjunct professor of homeland security and public policy at the University of Southern California. "I hate to say it, but it is a Super Bowl for criminals, too. They see the opportunities and that is why the security must be so robust."
The Minneapolis City Council has already voted to spend at least $471,000 for a three-year lease for office space for a police command center near U.S. Bank Stadium, site of the 2018 game. The command center will also be used for the X Games in 2017 and 2018, and the Final Four basketball tournament, coming in 2019.
When a city signs on to host the Super Bowl, it agrees to a stipulation from the National Football League that security for both the game and pregame venues will be provided by the local community "at no cost to the NFL."
The cash is raised by a local host committee that solicits big donors and reimburses government entities, which must make up any differences.
Minneapolis can expect to be reimbursed by the local Super Bowl LII Host Committee for its command center lease, Mark Ruff, the city's chief financial officer, told the council's Ways and Means Committee in July.
Total cost unknown
In a guest column on the Minnesota Chiefs of Police Association's website, Gerlicher wrote that Minneapolis police had "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."
Gerlicher declined to provide the Star Tribune with a copy of the budget he submitted. He also would not say how much he was seeking or the amount he wanted reimbursed.
The Twin Cities can expect more than a week of Super Bowl parties and events that will require security with Minneapolis police, the lead agency, supplementing its numbers with officers from around the state and region that it will have to pay.
Its main local partners will be the St. Paul police, the Hennepin and Ramsey County sheriff's offices, Metro Transit police and hopefully the State Patrol, Gerlicher said. The FBI will have a major role along with other federal agencies.
Ruff said he would give the council estimates of anticipated Super Bowl costs and reimbursements by the year's end or early next year.
He declined to offer an estimate now, and said he'd not seen Gerlicher's budget proposal.
Andrea Mokros, the host committee's vice president for communications said "safety and security is a top priority for us and we do plan to dedicate funds toward those costs" but budget decisions haven't been made yet.
Eric Fought, spokesman for Mayor Betsy Hodges said, "The mayor's understanding of the conversation at the time of the bid process was that the host committee would reimburse the city for security expenses related to the event; however everyone involved is still working to determine the scope and amount of those expenses."
Millions spent elsewhere
Other cities that have recently hosted the Super Bowl have incurred millions of dollars in security costs.
Santa Clara, Calif., home of the 2016 Super Bowl, ran up $3.5 million in bills, mostly for security and all of it reimbursed by its host committee.
But nearby San Francisco, which hosted most of the Super Bowl parties and events, got no host committee reimbursement. It spent about $3 million on police, according to a city report that concluded the city came out ahead anyway because of other revenue, including hotel and sales taxes. Some San Francisco City Council members disputed the figures, arguing the city lost money.
After Glendale, Ariz., played host to the 2015 Super Bowl, the city issued a report saying it lost $578,965 after computing police and other expenses vs. the revenue from the host committee, sales taxes and other sources.
The city of Houston, site of the 2017 Super Bowl, expects to spend $5.5 to $6.5 million, about 90 percent of that for public safety, said Susan Christian, special events director for the Houston mayor's office. She expects it will all be reimbursed by its host committee.
But another $1.6 million in Super Bowl security costs is expected to be incurred by Houston's NRG Stadium, which is owned by Harris County, said Ryan Sullivan, spokesman for the sheriff's office.
"It is still to be determined how much it will be covered by the host committee," he said.
Hennepin County Sheriff Rich Stanek said he did not yet know how many deputies will be needed for what venues and did not know the financial impact on his department.
"The expectation will be that our expenses will be reimbursed so there is little or no impact to the taxpayer," he said.