Super Bowl up for Logistics Consulting?

By | 09/02/2015

Super Bowl is all about Logistics.

University of Phoenix stadium in Glendale Arizona
University of Phoenix stadium in Glendale Arizona. Source:

Super Bowl is not just about buying tickets and watching the game. It also means boarding a flight, passing through airports, car rental, taxi, bus, train, entry into the stadium, and hotel room. Logistics is not just about transportation. It actually means a total solution from procurement to shipment. Super Bowl headquarters churn out hundreds of pages of documents that constitute a Super Bowl contingency plan. They treat everything from safety requirements to weather.

You have to brace for seating bowl due to suddenly worsening weather with snowfall or rainfall; you may have ice on the football field. You have to take into account all these eventualities. In fact, the 1967 NFL championship game came to be called the Ice Bowl, when one of such risks realized. Sometimes you have to choose the option of moving the game to some indoor football stadium. Of course, the Cardinals Stadium at University of Phoenix in Glendale, AZ is so free from weather-related risks that it is named by Business Week as one of the 10 “most impressive” sports facilities on the globe due to the combination of its retractable roof (engineering design by Walter P. Moore). Yet, you cannot be sure, particularly when you think of the snowstorm that is sweeping the Northeast America. So, staff often stock up care packages that include muffler, seat cushion, cold-proof earmuffs, lip balm, and hand warmer (actually used by quarterbacks), which may be provided to fans who come to the stadium.

The roof of University of Phoenix Stadium. Source: Wikipedia

However, this is nothing compared to the halftime show that highlights Super Bowl. The stage for a Super Bowl halftime show, which mounts hundreds or thousands of kilograms of lighting and special effects equipment, has to be installed within eight minutes, and that, not by professionals but by volunteers. (Worse, we should not forget that the field can be icy, too!)

As is the case with most Super Bowl stadiums, it is an issue how to effectively control crowded traffic conditions. Another issue is how to establish control of the tailgate party in parking lots. Super Bowl spectators flocking from coast to coast and sports fans infected with football fever who want to enjoy the game with their family in their hometown will stampede through all so many airports and public transits to the stadium. Michael Dwane, a 15-year football field security veteran, confesses, “Not everyone can see folks going this crazy with delight!” It is an enormous task to figure out how efficiently one can help fans to designated seats in the stadium in a short period of time. Medical staff and firefighters are put on a high state of alert. What makes it worse; people are facing new threats from ISIS, the fundamentalist Sunni armed group and the lone wolves as the group’s followers.

logistics for superbowl
Illustration by Peter Thomas Ryan. Source:

At least 50 agencies and organizations are usually involved in the processing. As early as ten days before a match, staffs are deployed in the field to handle the process and specific tasks. Routes and intervals for buses and trains are planned on the assumption that they will be fully loaded. While 100% safety is impossible, people work to get as close as possible. Since prostitution will spike along with safety-compromising accidents, Jeffrey Miller, NFL’s chief of security, braces for a worst-case scenario.

This is why Super Bowl needs a logistics consultant that regularly handles cramming of minimum 1.2 million people in a specific airport or seaport for Christmas or Thanksgiving. People who have experience in supply chain management are capable of running simulations to check occurrence of weak points and see where they exert influence. Thus, they research how people move from means of transport to their stadium seats and to rest room, or how crowds angry at their team’s defeat move to bars, shopping malls, and their lodging.