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Super Bowl risks tackled by planners

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Super Bowl risks tackled by planners

INDIANAPOLIS—When football fans tune in to the National Football League's Super Bowl XLVI on Feb. 5, they won't see the years of risk management efforts that preceded it.

Fans likely also will be unaware that the exposures that have been addressed include not just the event inside Indianapolis' Lucas Oil Stadium, but those extending far beyond the venue's gates.

“The planning of an event the size and scope of the Super Bowl has been going on for years in advance of the event,” said Lori Shaw, director of sports and leisure in the entertainment practices group at Aon Risk Solutions in Charlotte, N.C.

“In any major event, the planning from a risk management perspective as well as an insurance perspective...takes place years ahead,” said Lance Ewing, leader of the hospitality and leisure industry practice group at Chartis Inc. in Memphis, Tenn.

Beyond the game itself and the fans it will bring to Indianapolis, there are various events leading up to the game involving temporary venues, a host of sponsorships, the game broadcast and other related exposures, including the host city's reputation.

“There are so many different stakeholders in an event like this,” said Ms. Shaw.

“The Super Bowl has become more than a football game,” said Chris Rogers, director of risk control, national entertainment group, at Aon Risk Solutions in Los Angeles. “It's a weeklong event.”

Surrounding the game itself, risks range from slips and falls to acts of terrorism, Ms. Shaw said.

Planning also has included “what happens if there's a weather event that affects ingress and egress,” Ms. Shaw said in noting the need for contingency plans in case the venue becomes unavailable or the event has to be rescheduled.

In addition, an event of the Super Bowl's scale “speaks to the need for a very clear, defined evacuation plan,” she said.

The halftime show is another challenge, Mr. Rogers noted, “especially when they do things like, "Let's bring in 400 or 500 young people to stand around the stage and dance.'”

Mr. Ewing cited possible risks such as a mass illness at the game and determining whether local hospitals could accommodate a sudden influx of 25,000 to 30,000 patients. With terrorism and law enforcement exposures, it's also been necessary to consider whether the governor could mobilize the National Guard if needed.

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“Even down to the flyover that many times occurs,” Mr. Ewing said, “those are all things that have to be orchestrated and thought of from a risk management perspective.”

In terms of insurance, “You've got quite a variety of markets that will participate in the insurance portfolio of an event like this,” Ms. Shaw said. She expects general liability coverage for the Super Bowl to exceed $100 million, with additional coverage addressing media liability, property, coverage for sponsors of co-branded events and event-cancellation insurance. “That will most likely be placed in the Lloyd's marketplace,” she said of the latter.

In terms of Aon's role in placing Super Bowl coverage, “We participate in pieces of it,” Ms. Shaw said.

Likewise, asked about Chartis' involvement in insuring the Super Bowl, Mr. Ewing said, “In most major sporting events, Chartis always has an interest.”

Mr. Rogers noted that much of the Super Bowl risk management effort is actually focused on surrounding activities.

“Basically, I think where the impact will come as respects the Super Bowl is not so much inside Lucas Field but at the ancillary events,” he said. “If I'm the organizer of an event like that, I'm going to have a very good checklist and work very closely with the fire marshal and other authorities.”

With the stage collapse that killed seven and injured more than 40 others last August at the Indiana State Fair in Indianapolis still fresh in local memories, a spokeswoman said the Indianapolis Department of Code Enforcement hasn't necessarily heightened its inspection efforts of the various temporary venues erected for Super Bowl-related events, but the inspection activity is extensive.

“This is probably the highest number of temporary structures that our inspection team has had to go out and visit, at least in this time frame,” she said.

“We have a couple of structures that are 50,000 square feet or more,” she said, and the construction of some of the temporary facilities is so well-done that they are rated as permanent structures rather than temporary structures.

Among facilities that Indianapolis code enforcement officials have been checking are tents, stages and even the massive XLVI Roman numerals greeting visitors in downtown Indianapolis' Monument Circle. “Our inspectors have been out there as well,” the spokeswoman said.

From the city's perspective, Brett Wineinger, Indianapolis' property and risk manager, noted that the city is a self-insured entity with limited liability under Indiana law.

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“In most cases—the (NCAA men's national basketball championship) and things of that nature—risk is pretty much pushed back to our Capital Improvement Board, our Indiana Stadiums Commission or our Indiana Convention and Visitors Bureau, which is where most of our larger events have been held,” Mr. Wineinger said. “Our responsibility may be from increased security or fire, readiness, etc.”

“For the Super Bowl, obviously this has been a two-year process of street and sidewalk and curb redevelopment, and pushing for additional insured coverage with our host committee on various contracts that impact us,” the Indianapolis risk manager said. The city also has donated its risk management services to the host committee's risk management subcommittee, he said.

With events such as the Super Bowl, it's typical for risk managers to learn from the experience of prior events and support one another in making preparations, Mr. Ewing said.

And, he said, those in the risk management and insurance communities will know that the risk management has been done well if it's unseen.