Alongside the Superdome runs Poydras Street, a main eight-lane artery into and out of the heart of downtown New Orleans.
There's no auto traffic on it on this Super Bowl Sunday, however. The entire stretch bordering the Superdome property is filled with a maze of metal barricades draped with purple and gold Super Bowl banners, as well as security tents.
Fire department personnel are stationed near hydrants, and volunteers, emergency medical staff and security forces have are visible at every turn.
Farther away, Concrete barricades prevent vehicle traffic from getting within two blocks of the stadium.
The Super Bowl is deemed a national security event, but not quite on the same level it was the last time the game was in New Orleans in 2002. That was the first Super Bowl after the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, so security was run by the Secret Service. There were tanks in the street and snipers on roofs.
This year, the public plazas surrounding the dome look a little more festive and a little less militarized.
— Brett Martel — http://twitter.com/brettmartel
PHELPS THE RAVEN
Michael Phelps missed out when the Baltimore Ravens won their first Super Bowl title.
Not this time around. No way.
Phelps, who retired from swimming last summer after winning a record 18 Olympic gold medals, is in New Orleans to cheer on his hometown Ravens.
"It's destiny," Phelps told the AP. "Ravens by seven."
When the Ravens won the 2001 Super Bowl, Phelps was a teenager just getting started on his record-breaking career. He remembers being at a meet in France with his longtime coach when Baltimore routed the New York Giants 34-7.
"I slept through the alarm to wake up and watch the game," Phelps said. "It was already 34-7 when I woke up. I was like, 'All right, we're done. I can turn it back off.'"
He went back to bed.
Phelps is attending the game with his mother, sisters and several friends.
He hopes his buddy, Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis, can go out a champion — just like Phelps did in London.
"This time, I'll be there for the whole game," Phelps said. "I'll be able to watch Ray hopefully finish his career and his last game the way he wants to."
— Paul Newberry — http://twitter.com/pnewberry1963
AGAINST THE HOMETOWN GRAIN
Despite growing up in District Heights, Md., San Francisco linebacker NaVorro Bowman has no allegiances to the Baltimore Ravens.
And no, it's not because he was a Washington Redskins fan.
"I was a Cowboys fan," Bowman said. "Being the youngest in the house, being the baby, my mom, my brother, my aunts — everyone liked the Redskins. So I decided to go to the rivals with the Cowboys."
— Nancy Armour — http://www.twitter.com/nrarmour
DAHLBERG ON SAFETY
The latest piece from AP national sports columnist Tim Dahlberg asks: Could football end up killing itself?
It's Dahlberg's take on the current state of safety in the NFL, and where Commissioner Roger Goodell says things are headed.
On Sunday perhaps the biggest audience ever to see a Super Bowl will gather in front of televisions for parties of their own. The game has become America's unofficial national holiday, its tradition of chip eating, beer drinking and commercial watching as deeply ingrained in the country's fabric as turkey and stuffing.
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