Houston County emergency managers talk terrorist attack readiness ahead of Super Bowl LI

HOUSTON – Just one year before the Super Bowl lands in Houston, Harris County, emergency managers met in the Harris County Emergency Operations Center with Texas Senator John Cornyn. It was an update on homeland security and our readiness for a terrorist attack.  But they also knew one of the biggest games on the planet is coming to Houston in one year. 

"Each Super Bowl is a little bit different,“ said County Judge Ed Emmett.  He said, “Everybody from local law enforcement to state to federal.  Everybody's already focusing on next year's Super Bowl."

Harris County Sheriff Ronald Hickman said many of the possible threats have changed since we last hosted the Super Bowl in Houston 12 years ago.  Hickman said, "Also what's increased is the technology that we have.  The kind of sensors that we look for to make sure that we track for airborne issues or potential threats."

The city and county sent representatives to San Francisco to learn lessons from this year’s game and the millions who have gathered.  What they learn will help keep our city and county safer.  Emmett added, "We've got different characters.  We've got different actors that might want to disrupt the Super Bowl.  But the law enforcement at every level is paying attention to that and will be ready."

As emergency managers prepare for security measures, construction managers downtown prepare for the game.  Between now and next year, as many as 3,000 hotel rooms will be completed.  Angie Bertinot with the Downtown District said, "The six hotel projects that are under construction I think four or five of them really want to be open by Super Bowl and will be."

She said there are a total of 26 projects under construction downtown valued at about $2 billion. The George R. Brown Convention Center is getting a makeover with a new, shiny exterior, in time for the big game. 

Community leaders also expect between 2,500 and 3,000 apartments and homes to be completed in downtown soon. They hope these new residents will support new businesses that dried up after the last Super Bowl here.  Bertinot added, "All of these projects would be happening whether the Super Bowl was happening or not."