At Tampa Stadium, defense isn't restricted to playing field

January 23, 1991|By Ken Murray | Ken Murray,Evening Sun Staff

TAMPA, Fla. -- The city of Tampa, in cooperation with the FBI and NFL, wants to turn Tampa Stadium into a veritable fortress for Super Bowl XXV.

More than 1,700 security personnel, including 500 law enforcement officers, will be used to safeguard against the threat of terrorist attack during Sunday's championship game between the New York Giants and Buffalo Bills.

"We have gone to extraordinary measures to make it a safe Super Bowl," Tampa Public Safety Administrator Bob Smith said in a security briefing yesterday.

Those measures include:

* The construction of a six-foot chain link fence around the stadium, some 50 feet from the current permanent fence that rims the structure.

* A ban on portable radios, TV sets, camcorders and still-cameras in the stadium. That is in addition to the normal prohibition of umbrellas, bottles, cans and other containers.

* A request to the FAA to restrict air space over the stadium.

* The presence of bomb technicians on the site, a normal Super Bowl procedure.

* Metal detectors at all 68 gates. Every person entering the stadium will be checked with a detector.

Security at the stadium has been maintained around the clock since it was sealed off last Wednesday.

When players and media arrived at the stadium for a media session yesterday, that increased security was readily apparent.

"I've been here [at the Super Bowl] before, and this is really beefed up," said Giants cornerback Mark Collins. "You try not to worry about it."

The media underwent metal detector scrutiny upon entering the stadium, and there were some curious developments.

One metal detector was activated when it passed over the leg of a columnist from Orlando, Fla. Upon rolling up his pant leg, the writer was allowed to enter.

Another reporter activated a detector with what he told the security guard was loose change. The guard did not ask to see the change and let the writer enter.

At his briefing, Smith said the police department had received one anonymous phone threat, but claimed it had "no credibility at all."

Smith stopped short of guaranteeing a safe Super Bowl.

"There's no law enforcement agency that can guarantee safety under any circumstances," he said.

Allen McCreight of the FBI said his organization has counter-terrorism responsibility for the game. He also said the FBI is involved annually with the Super Bowl.

In response to the war in the Middle East, the NFL canceled its extravagant Friday night party here. It is clear the war has placed the Super Bowl in a different light.

"Everybody is thinking about the guys over there [in the Persian Gulf]," said Bills center Kent Hull. "I was going down to a press conference after the [AFC] championship game and the TV monitors were on with news from Saudi Arabia. The first thing I wanted to do was stop and watch.

"I wish we'd be over with it. As far as playing the game, that's not in our hands. We want to play the game. And I'm sure a lot of people from Buffalo over there want to see us play the game."

Said Collins, "After the game is over Sunday, I'm going home. The people overseas, their life is on the line every day. It puts a sobering effect on the game.

"Win or lose, it's just a game."

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