by J. Brooks Terry
A waterfront view of the Super Bowl may not be possible. According to the Super Bowl Host Committee, portions of the St. Johns River will be off limits to civilian boats before and during the Feb. 6 game.
Host Committee vice president of operations Reid Sigmon said an official Coast Guard report outlining specific restrictions would be made public some time in the future, but its main focus would be on areas between the Mathews and Fuller Warren bridges.
“We’re still awaiting those kinds of details, but the goal of the plan is to balance public access with safety and security. That’s obviously very important.” he said.
Sigmon said the Coast Guard has the ultimate responsibility of coordinating those efforts with local and State officials.
“This is a unique situation because no Super Bowl has ever been held this close to a federally maintained waterway,” he said. “But I know they are working to keep as much access to the river as possible.”
That access, however, will diminish after the Feb. 3 Super Night of Lights boat parade.
Touted as the public’s best bet for river access, Host Committee director of communications Heather Surface said after that event, the Coast Guard’s grip on the St. Johns will tighten as Super Sunday approaches.
“I would expect those restrictions to increase a little more each day,” said Surface. “Every boat could be subject to boarding by the Coast Guard and we’ll likely be looking at a lock-down type situation to make sure everything is secure on that Sunday.”
Surface said slow-zones may also be in affect on Friday and Saturday before the game.
Other details are currently unavailable, but a special Super Bowl marine committee will meet Dec. 10. to discuss Super Bowl week boat traffic. The Coast Guard and Steve Nichols, the City’s waterways coordinator, are also expected to attend.
Sigmon said once the Coast Guard publishes a report, it will be made available on the Host Committee and City’s websites.
“I can’t say much more at this time, but the Coast Guard has always been a very good partner and are great to work with,” he said. “I know they are working to keep as much access to the river as possible.