NEW ORLEANS -- The raising of the national security level
from yellow to orange added some new wrinkles to planning for the
Sugar Bowl, but nothing that cannot be handled, New Orleans'
director of homeland security said.
Perhaps the biggest change, Terry Ebbert said, will be the
presence of the 62nd Civil Support Team, a Louisiana National Guard
unit that specializes in responding to chemical or biological
attacks. The unit, based in Carville, was not part of the initial
Sugar Bowl security plan, but Gov. Foster's declaration of a state
of emergency allowed the group to be mobilized for the event.
The emergency declaration also will provide money that the city
can use to bring in more law enforcement officers and expand their
hours, Ebbert said.
"This will go a long way toward covering overtime costs," he
The city's budget for the event, as well as the New Orleans
Police Department's anticipated troop strength, should not be
affected by the increased threat level, Ebbert said. For security
reasons, the city has not disclosed the number of officers it plans
to deploy for the game.
More than 72,000 spectators are expected for the BCS national
championship game between No. 2 LSU and No. 3 University of
Oklahoma at the Superdome.
Ebbert declared this week that the city will be ready on all
fronts, just as it was in February 2002 when it was the site of the
nation's first Super Bowl to follow the terrorist attacks of Sept.
Protection for that game included chain-link fences surrounding
the Superdome, with security checkpoints in the streets. While the
police presence this time will be substantial, it will not reach
the level of that Super Bowl game, Ebbert said without giving
Coming just months after the country's worst terrorist attack,
that game was declared a national special security event by the
White House, and the U.S. Secret Service was brought in to
The Sugar Bowl will receive no such designation, leaving the
bulk of security planning to the New Orleans Police Department. The
federal government's role will be typical for such an event, Ebbert
said, with the local FBI office providing support by closely
monitoring intelligence about possible terrorism activity.
Even before the threat code was raised, the city was beefing up
security plans due to the presence of LSU in the big game, Ebbert
said. Because of the proximity of Baton Rouge and the large number
of LSU backers in the region, Ebbert said the city is bracing for
as many as 100,000 fans to descend on the city without tickets.
While some of those fans may try to buy scalped tickets for the
game, most will be content to watch the game in a local bar and
join the party afterward.
"When LSU got into the game, it presented a whole new level of
concerns: traffic concerns, street closures, RV parking, tailgating
parties, you name it," Ebbert said.
While the large crowds expected to fill the streets for the game
won't heighten terrorism concerns, Ebbert said, they will present
the potential for the rowdy behavior that has become increasingly
common in big-time college sports.
"We've seen some of the things that have happened in other
cities after championship games," Ebbert said, "and we don't want