We assess that any major physical security incidents at the Super Bowl are highly unlikely.
This assessment was issued to clients of Dragonfly's TerrorismTracker Service on 8 February 2022.
The event is scheduled for 13 February at SoFi stadium in Los Angeles. Petty crime will probably be the main risk to attendees, based on statements by law enforcement officials in the press. Extremists from a range of ideological perspectives including anti-vaxx, far-right and QAnon have expressed general opposition to the event. But divisions and limitations in their capabilities mean that they would struggle to disrupt, let alone attack, the event.
The police have yet to warn about any specific threats to the event. But as the most watched sporting event of the year in the US, the Super Bowl would provide a major platform for extremists or protesters to promote their views. Anti-vaxx conspiracists online have called for a ‘shut down’ of the event in response to mask and vaccine requirements for entry. And QAnon adherents have cited conspiracy theories about the ‘elite establishment’ engaging in human trafficking as reason to boycott the event.
Even in the absence of any specific threats, the authorities appear to be concerned that the Super Bowl’s profile as a major event would make it an appealing target. The LAPD plans to surge the number of patrols in and near hotels, venues, and other areas hosting Super Bowl-related events in the city throughout this week, according to press reports. Federal agencies such as the FBI and DHS have already deployed specialised personnel to LA to provide additional support.
In our assessment, these security measures are likely to deter most would-be violent extremist actors. This is not least since the groups that have expressed hostility towards the event have little demonstrated capability to organise and execute a coordinated attack. In the unlikely scenario that the event were targeted in a violent attack, it would probably take the form of a shooting carried out by a lone actor. As such we are maintaining our terrorism risk rating for LA at moderate.
A range of other activists have also discussed protesting at the Super Bowl. But we doubt that this would go beyond small-demonstrations and direct actions like those that have happened at previous events. For example, over the weekend, calls circulated on social media for truckers to lead a convoy to the event to protest against Covid-19 restrictions. However, the convoy’s organisers have said online that they will not rally at the event.
Image: Aerial view of the SoFi Stadium, Los Angeles; Daniel Slim/AFP