North Central’s campus during the week leading up to Super Bowl LII was no longer North Central’s, it was clear that the status quo had changed. North Central became the primary staging area for security operations. Military tactical vehicles were stationed on the corners of Elliot Ave. alongside Trask Word and Worship Center, law enforcement roamed around Elliot Park and police vehicles replaced students’ usual parking spaces.
Approximately 230 students were cleared by Student Life to stay on campus during the 10-day onslaught of Super Bowl activities like Super Bowl LIVE on Nicollet Mall and Super Bowl Experience at the Minneapolis Convention Center, only three blocks away from North Central. Most of these students were from out of town, working in the community or are a part of essential staff on campus, including housekeeping and security workers.
North Central’s location was a key factor in the decision to make campus a staging area for law enforcement to protect Minneapolis. Trask Word and Worship Center and the College Life Center worked well for accommodating large groups of people coming and out, some of these groups were as large as 150-200 people at a time.
North Central is sandwiched between U.S. Bank Stadium and the Minneapolis Convention Center, making it an ideal place for law enforcement units to grab their daily assignments and then head out to do their duties. Lt. Todd Gross, from the Minneapolis Police Department (MPD), was in charge of managing staging operations at North Central.
“The biggest benefit of this site is the size of it,” Gross said. “We needed a central location for everyone to come to meet, to get a consistent briefing on a daily basis.”
Over a 1000 law enforcement personnel from 51 state police departments and other agencies came through North Central’s doors on a daily basis to report in and be briefed on assignments, according to Gross. Law enforcement came from all over the state, as far North as Ely and as far South as Rochester, Minnesota to help with security.
The security operations were kept very confidential in order to not only ensure public safety, but to keep officers safe. “The biggest concern is, [because] of the sheer number of officers and the different groups coming through this site, to protect this site from any kind of a threat,” Gross said.
Assignments for the different groups of law enforcement came from the Multi-Agency Command Center (MACC) for dispersement to at North Central. The MACC quite literally had a birds-eye view of downtown Minneapolis, in particular, U.S. Bank Stadium. According to Chris Fleck, director of business relations at North Central, the command center managed 172 teams on the ground assisting with public safety.
Two years ago, discussions began between Fleck and the Minneapolis Super Bowl Host Committee. Fleck started staying overnight on campus as soon as law enforcement began rolling in Jan. 25.
“I hear things and I just communicate and bridge that communication,” Fleck said about his time facilitating and providing hospitality to law enforcement as a representative of North Central. “I was working with the FDA and the Minneapolis Public Health department for six months with Pioneer on doing security with the food to give it the same level of security the president gets.”
There were not any complications regarding students staying on campus while security operations were in effect, according to Gross.
“I want to thank North Central University for hosting us, they’ve been gracious hosts,” Gross said. “It’s been very fun to do.”