Super Bowl

Sights & sounds: Security takes precedence at Levi’s Stadium

Those with the best vantage point Sunday, without obstructions or having to mortgage their homes for access?

The snipers.

One was atop both Levi’s Stadium scoreboards as an ominous backdrop to the glittery trappings of Super Bowl 50. But they darted in and out of view. What good is a sniper if he’s in clear, constant view?

Heavily armed security– the military, local law enforcement, SWAT teams, undercover agents, busloads of personnel – was prevalent, and a helicopter repeatedly flew over the venue. The theme might as well have been, “No one is going to sully this event.”

An estimated 1 million fans descended upon the Bay Area in the last week or so, and more people mean more potential risks. The Department of Homeland Security classified this event as “Level 1 Special Event.” Translation: a terrorism hot spot.

Everyone – fans, media – was patted down. Some groaned. Other rolled with it.

“I was hoping to get groped, but no luck today,” joked Andy Miller, 48, a real estate broker from Denver, wearing a Von Miller No. 58 jersey. “Security is insane, but it’s the times we live in, so I’m OK with it. Better safe than sorry.”

Dogged pursuit

Security was so tight that sniffing dogs worked their way through the press box levels, running their noses across reporters’ work bags. A reporter’s bag often carries a long-forgotten sandwich, heavy on mayo.

Jersey counts

In the early days of the Super Bowl, and even when the game was in its teens and 20s, fans arrived in simple, blend-in attire. In recent times, games have featured a sea of replica jerseys, and Sunday, many in the crowd wore Peyton Manning’s No. 18 and Cam Newton’s No. 1. Some even went Broncos throwback style with John Elway’s No. 7 or Tim Tebow’s No. 15.

The best get-up might have been a guy wearing a Newton jersey with the name on the back altered to “New (Sheriff).” Newton admiringly calls Manning “The Sheriff.”

More fancy attire

What’s a jersey count without at least one oddball? Like the fellow wearing a Broncos jersey with “420” on the front – it’s Colorado, where recreational marijuana is legal – complete with Hulk gloves, a Hulk mask and a mop-top wig. The most unusual non-jersey outfits included a guy in a “Saint Vince” (Vince Lombardi) top hat and some sort of effort to look the part of the pope. He had a Super Bowl trophy splashed across his chest and emblems of every NFL team draped over his shoulders.

Spend responsibly

What’s a football game without spirits and cold drink? What’s a Super Bowl without extreme prices to go with those drinks?

It cost a tidy $25 for a glass of wine – not a mug or a pint, mind you. Beer sold for $13 to $17. A cheese and salami spread – a small one at that – went for $15. The sort of bottled water you fetch at the grocery store for $1 cost $7.

“Where’s a garden hose around here? I’ll use that,” cracked Norman Simpson of Mountain View, nodding as he noticed a shrimp cocktail went for $25 and popcorn for $15.

Climate change

In the first half, fans were shaded and cool – requiring a windbreaker or a trusty $175 sweat top from the nearby concourse – or baking. As usual, the west side of the stadium was cooler than the game-time temperature of 73, and it felt much warmer on the east side.

“Hey, no complaints here,” said Kellie Whiteside, a Panthers fan from Charlotte, N.C., in an upper-deck east-side seat. “Back home, it’s getting down to the teens overnight.”

What budget?

Most fans cringed at the cost of Super Bowl tickets, from face value of $500 to last-minute online offerings of $28,000, and here was Chris Elliott looking pleased with his haul. The Broncos fan and contractor from Boulder, Colo., doled out $16,000 for two tickets for himself and his wife, Louise.

“We’ve had more fun this week than we did for our anniversary 35 years ago,” Elliott said. “It’s been a good work year for us, so why not go for this?”

Nearby, a luxury suite with a 50-yard-line view rented for $350,000.

Nothing was cheap. According to the SeatGeek database, the average ticket price was $4,639, making it the most expensive Super Bowl. It still fell short of last year’s championship boxing match between Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Manny Pacquiao in Las Vegas, where the average seat sold for $4,672.

By contrast, the top ticket price for the first Super Bowl in 1967 was $12, which equates to $85 now when adjusted for inflation. The top face-value ticket Sunday was $1,800, which equates to absurd.

Media extravaganza

Super Bowl I attracted 368 credentialed media. On Sunday, more than 5,500 reporters from around the world covered the game. In the early years of the Super Bowl, media and players often had informal exchanges at team hotels, and sometimes it was this simple: Want to interview Bart Starr? He’s in Room 212.

Golden views

What was the over/under on how many times CBS showed a live shot of the Golden Gate Bridge when returning from a commercial break?

The national – or global – perception is this is a San Francisco Super Bowl. It was, to a degree, but it was more Super Bowl 50/50 – half of the events in San Francisco and the game in Santa Clara.

The running joke in the press box was trying to spot the Golden Gate from Levi’s. Perhaps it was behind the Bud Light sign. Maybe someone can ask the sniper.

Joe Davidson: 916-321-1280, @SacBee_JoeD

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