This time around, the security around U.S. Bank Stadium will be less Fort Knox and more Disneyland.
But the tens of thousands of attendees who descend on downtown Minneapolis for the men’s basketball NCAA Final Four next weekend still can expect a “robust” law enforcement presence, authorities said Thursday. While security won’t be as intense as it was at last year’s Super Bowl, it will still feature hundreds of police, fire and medical personnel from 30 local, state and federal agencies stationed around the stadium and other nearby sites.
Speaking at a City Hall news conference, Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo said the massive security operation surrounding the event wouldn’t be possible without relationships with community organizations, businesses, and other government agencies.
“We have been engaged with training and preparation long before even our Super Bowl planning,” he said, while urging the public to heed the “see something, say something” slogan familiar to any seasoned traveler.
Officials have pledged a “family-friendly” atmosphere where visitors, downtown workers and residents alike can enjoy themselves without feeling restricted by the presence of rifle-toting police officers. At the same time, public safety will be the top priority, Arradondo said.
Police made similar promises leading up to last year’s Super Bowl, which saw the areas outside the stadium crisscrossed with concrete barriers and metal fences that some said lent downtown a distinctly military feel.
There will be no National Guardsmen patrolling city streets this time, and the overall law enforcement presence will be lighter, Arradondo said.
Some things won’t change. Police will again tap into downtown’s vast video and radio networks while using surveillance technology left over from the Super Bowl to monitor potential threats, Arradondo said.
Organizers estimate that 72,000 people will pour into U.S. Bank Stadium each day — or about 6,000 more than were at the Super Bowl — and that the three-day bonanza leading up to the championship matchup could draw 90,000 out-of-towners “and more from the region.”
The police department expects to spend $1.3 million on Final Four security, the majority of which will be paid for by the Minneapolis Local Organizing Committee, police spokeswoman Sgt. Darcy Horn said in an e-mail. Any overruns “will be offset by local event revenue,” she said.
Still, security surrounding this year’s semifinal and championship games will be a far cry from Super Bowl LII.
The games and accompanying festivities have earned a SEAR (Special Events Assessment Rating) Level III security designation, a step up from a regular-season Timberwolves game and more on par with a major golf tournament like the U.S. Open, according to Joseph Rivers, assistant special agent in charge of the FBI’s Minnesota office.
“A regular basketball game, like an NBA basketball game, that would be SEAR V,” he said.
While authorities will have fewer federal “assets” to bring to bear, the bureau still will have 50 to 60 local special agents, analysts and support staff working the game, Rivers said.
Arradondo was coy when asked whether President Donald Trump might attend.
“We do expect to have some politicians both on the national and state level attend,” he said.