Despite sky-high security at the Super Bowl, a top U.S. Bank Stadium official's cellphone was stolen as he tried to break up a fight.
Mike Vekich, chairman of the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority (MSFA), was conducting "routine monitoring of U.S. Bank Stadium and MSFA contractors" on game day when he, "along with other members of security staff, saw a conflict escalate between fans at the Super Bowl," spokeswoman Jenn Hathaway said.
Vekich's "personal" cellphone was taken as he and the "security team" worked to defuse the situation, Hathaway said, adding, "Our team is currently looking into the matter."
The game took place on Feb. 4, 10 days ago, and Vekich still doesn't have his phone back.
Hathaway said no police report was filed. She didn't respond to additional questions about the circumstances or location of the fight. The incident appears to have punctured the multiyear, multiagency security net around and at the stadium on the day of the game between the New England Patriots and the Philadelphia Eagles.
The Super Bowl is a Level 1 National Security event because it's a high-profile, high-risk target for a terrorist attack. That means the federal government spends months working with the National Football League, and state and local officials to coordinate security. At a joint news conference days before the game, security officials said they were confident they could provide protection for anything.
Ticket holders passed through metal detectors and were subject to size limits on their bags and checks at entry points. Throughout the 10-day event, dozens of law enforcement agents worked around the clock at a multiagency command center. Those officers monitored cameras throughout downtown, inside and outside the stadium as well as light-rail train movement.
During a media visit in the days before the game, Minneapolis police, who coordinated the multiagency effort, showed how cameras could zoom in on specific spots in the stadium at the push of a button.
In charge of that effort for more than two years was Cmdr. Scott Gerlicher. Late Tuesday, Gerlicher said he knew nothing about the incident involving Vekich. "That's the first I've heard of it," Gerlicher said when contacted by a reporter.
Rochelle Olson • 612-673-1747 Twitter: @rochelleolson