The Charger Blog

University of New Haven Sport Management Professor Discusses Super Bowl Security

An internationally recognized expert on stadium safety and risk management, Gil Fried says that planning for the Super Bowl starts more than a year before the big game, as local, state, and federal agencies work together to ensure the public’s safety.

January 31, 2019

By Renee Chmiel, Office of Marketing and Communications

Image of Gil Fried, Ph.D.
Professor Gil Fried says that a security guidebook for the Super Bowl would be about five times larger than this guidebook for a typical game.

Gil Fried, professor and chair of the University of New Haven’s sport management program, and a group of students recently attended the College Football Playoff national championship game in California, where they saw firsthand a significant police presence, streets that had been closed off for safety, and volunteers working together. Those attending the Super Bowl can expect to see some of the same safety measures, Fried says, but on a much larger scale.

At Super Bowl LIII, which will be held on Sunday at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, law enforcement representing myriad agencies, including local police departments, state marshals, the FBI, the Drug Enforcement Administration, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, will be working together to ensure that fans can enjoy the game safely. Law enforcement will be cracking down on gambling, counterfeiting, ticket scalping, and terrorism threats, among other crimes.

“Human trafficking has always been a big issue at Super Bowls in the past,” Fried said. “You’re also going to have the standard issues that you have at basically every NFL game. You have two people sitting next to each other who might be drunk, wearing jerseys of opposing teams. You hope that people would know how to play nice in the sandbox, but the reality is there are a lot of fights.”

Fried has been discussing Super Bowl security with his sport facility management students. One of their homework assignments will be to watch the game and to identify potential issues.

“You can’t live your life like you’re scared. We also have numerous well-trained professionals with wonderful technology working to keep everyone safe.” Gil Fried, Ph.D.

The world will also be watching – hundreds of millions of people watch the big game each year, in addition to the fans that fill the stadium. Fried said that because there are so many moving parts, law enforcement must be ready for any kind of issue or threat.

“It’s not just people in the facility who could be a problem, it could be people outside,” said Fried. “One of my biggest concerns is going to be controlling the tailgating, which I think is a huge issue.”

Another worry, Fried said, is the stadium’s proximity to where the Centennial Olympic Park bombing took place in 1996, since that could motivate an attack. Though he won’t be attending the Super Bowl, Fried will be in Atlanta for a conference just a few days later.

“Yes, there is always a possible threat, but that shouldn’t limit what we do and how we do it,” said Fried. “You can’t live your life like you’re scared. We also have numerous well-trained professionals with wonderful technology working to keep everyone safe.”