Editor's note: This story originally appeared in Sports Venue Safety, a new supplement to Athletic Business. View the entire digital issue here.
Among the noteworthy numbers to emerge from Super Bowl XLVIII in New Jersey last February — along with 48 (the number of points racked up by the Seattle Seahawks) and 8 (the Denver Broncos' meager output) and 49 (the surprisingly agreeable game-time temperature) — was this lesser-known figure: 10. That was the reported number of arrests made at MetLife Stadium security checkpoints that day — most for disorderly conduct, drug possession or trespassing.
Whether that number, reported in the hours following the game by The Star-Ledger in Newark, reflects a full and accurate account of police activity that day is open for debate. Some security experts aren't convinced that what the public hears and what actually happens are necessarily compatible. However, one thing is clear: The message got out early and emphatically that security at the so-called "mass transit" Super Bowl was going to be formidable. Nearly 100 law enforcement agencies, including 30 at the federal level, were involved in the gameday strategizing, and the police presence — from state troopers and sharpshooters to helicopters and Humvees — was hard to miss.
On a personal level, each of the 82,589 patrons in attendance was subjected to a gauntlet of metal detection, pat-downs and bag searches before being allowed near the stadium. Said acting captain Stephen Jones, a state police spokesperson, "We hope Super Bowl XLVIII becomes the new template for how security and safety are handled into the future of the event."
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In truth, such turnstile security measures had already begun their march toward mainstream acceptance, at least at the professional sports level, by the time the Seahawks and Broncos met at MetLife. "There are stricter policies on screening patrons as they enter stadiums and also what belongings they can bring into a venue now," says Stacey Hall, associate director of the National Center for Spectator Sport Safety and Security (NCS4) at the University of Southern Mississippi. "After the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing, people started to reflect and to again look at some of their access-control procedures, such as perimeter control and screening."