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Authorities: No Current, Credible Threat To Final Four In Arizona

Phoenix Police Chief Jeri Williams
(Photo by Matthew Casey, KJZZ)
Phoenix Police Chief Jeri Williams (right) speaks at press conference on security for the NCAA Men's Final Four Championship.

The FBI says there are currently no credible threats to the NCAA Tournament's Four in Glendale

But the championship weekend presents a unique security challenge compared to past mega-events.

The West Valley is no stranger to Super Bowls, Fiesta Bowls, even high-stakes international soccer matches. But these events are just one game, while the Final Four includes three.

There will be heightened security around University of Phoenix Stadium from Friday through Monday night, said Rick St. John, chief of the Glendale Police Department.

“We have to keep our footprint for the event locked down,” St. John said. “Or we have to keep safety parameters up for a longer period of time. And so even vendors that are coming in and out of the footprint are screened differently than if it were just a one-game event. “

After Super Bowl XLIX, NFL star Tom Brady had his jersey stolen from the locker room. The Arizona Department of Public Safety said there will be “adequate security” inside locker rooms during the Final Four.

Downtown Phoenix has served as fan central for the Super Bowl and the college football national championship. This weekend it will be the hub for the Final Four, and Sunday presents authorities with a different challenge.

Aerosmith will play a free concert. The Arizona Diamondbacks start the regular season at Chase Field, the Phoenix Suns have a home game and the Phoenix Symphony will play Beethoven's Ninth Symphony.

“I believe it will be the busiest night in downtown Phoenix history,” said Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton. "Which is awesome, but obviously it’s going to put a lot of stress on police and fire to make sure everything comes off as safely as possible.”

Months of planning have public safety officials ready to handle massive crowds, Stanton said. To ease the burden, they want people to consider taking the light rail or the bus to downtown.

Matthew Casey has won Edward R. Murrow awards for hard news and sports reporting since he joined KJZZ as a senior field correspondent in 2015.