Amidst numerous horror stories and predictions of doom for the two-week Super Bowl celebration, SaveMuni engaged SFMTA spokespersons Kristin Smith and Ed Cobean to give us a little more insight on the planning for the event.
The first thing we learned was that the long-dreaded plan to take down Muni wires in the Financial District for the sake of putting up canopies had thankfully been discarded as infeasible. On the other hand, much of downtown will indeed be blocked off, with the F line completely shut down northeast of Beale, and replaced by buses to the southwest. This map shows the numerous Muni reroutes that will go into effect on January 23; the MTA site also has suggestions for how to get around. On the positive side, the number of trains in the tunnel will be increased, and many single-car trains will be replaced by two-car trains. Also, the nightly 9:30 and all weekend tunnel shutdowns will be discontinued during the event.
According to Smith and Cobean, the NFL is expecting about a million visitors, and is encouraging them to use special branded Clipper cards, rather than driving. Most events will occur after rush hour; the main San Francisco attraction will be something at Moscone Center called “The NFL Experience,” but the NFL also plans to have “lots of structures” in the area between Beale and Stuart (W-E) and Justin Herman and Don Chee (N-S).
When asked how much of the bill the city (including Muni) will be stuck with, our guests appeared to have little idea. They told us that “we never expected to be 100% reimbursed,” but that the event will be a “huge boon” to the general fund. Unfortunately, no one has said anything about the MTA budget being increased accordingly; most estimates have Muni ending up holding the bag for about $1.7 million, which of course will be to the detriment of other services throughout the year. In recent days the Supervisors, led by Jane Kim, have begun a campaign to seek reimbursement from the NFL for police and Muni expenses.
As for security, the city appears to have few concerns. This will be “the most heavily scrutinized security event in history,” Cobean assured us.