Advertisement
Politics

Why this congressman will be riding the lightrail instead of going to Super Bowl 50

What time is Super Bowl 50?

A Super Bowl 50 sign decorates a lookout point above San Francisco on Jan. 30.

(Marcio Jose Sanchez / Associated Press)

Rep. Michael Honda has the opportunity of a lifetime: watch the Super Bowl in his own congressional district. But if the San Jose Democrat has his way, he won’t be at Levi’s Stadium on Sunday.

He’d rather be in a security command center in Santa Clara, making sure everything goes smoothly. He even wants to take the light rail to and from the stadium Sunday to ensure the trains are running on time.

“There is a sense of excitement, but also a sense of profound responsibility to make sure while people are there they are having fun, but the issue of safety and security is paramount in their minds,” Honda said. “I want to be able to be there to be able to observe. It’s been a long process.”

See more of our top stories on Facebook >>

Advertisement

The game between the Denver Broncos and Carolina Panthers is scheduled to kick off at 3:30 p.m. It will be broadcast on CBS.

Along with attracting thousands of visitors to the Bay Area, major sporting events often bring a surge in crime such as sex trafficking. Earlier in the week, Broncos rookie safety Ryan Murphy was sent back to Colorado after being detained as part of a prostitution sting.

In recent months, federal agencies like the FBI and Federal Aviation Administration have coordinated with local officials on how to address potential safety issues, such as human trafficking or preventing fights and theft. This includes teaching flight attendants to recognize possible trafficking victims, using technology to quickly identify fights or disturbances within the stadium and monitoring public transportation for potential weapons, Honda said.

Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-Menlo Park), whose Bay Area district borders Honda’s, met with Santa Clara County law enforcement and fire officials, surveyed special operations vehicles in Palo Alto and discussed how 911 systems work together, her spokesman said.

Advertisement

Her staff also has been participating in Department of Homeland Security and Santa Clara County briefings on human trafficking.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco) is among several members who put information about traveling safely and reporting sex abuse on her website.

Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Dublin), who also represents a bordering district, said the area’s population has swelled in advance of the game.

“It’s absolute excitement and traffic madness,” Swalwell said. “We’re pretty excited to host it.”

Swalwell hadn’t finalized plans to watch the game, saying his concern has been making sure residents and visitors can “have a good time and [be] confident that local and federal law enforcement are not only working overtime but they are doing a lot of things that people may not even think to look out for that are going to keep them safe.”

But the preparations haven’t all been so somber.

Earlier this week, Honda donned a referee’s uniform between House votes and officiated a Super Bowl bet between Democratic Reps. Diana DeGette of Colorado and Alma Adams of North Carolina. DeGette pledged to provide bison burgers and local beer if the Panthers win and Adams promised barbecue and local beer if the Broncos win. Honda said he’ll provide California wine and beer to the winner as well.

Thursday evening, the congressman attended a gala with team officials, including San Francisco 49ers owner Jed York and Oakland Raiders Chief Executive Mark Davis, and NFL Commissioner Roger Goddell at San Francisco City Hall.

Advertisement

If there isn’t room for Honda at the command center Sunday, he’ll probably watch the game with a buddy or his brother, he said.

Honda was offered two tickets to the game at market price [tickets are going for more than $2,500 each] “but you know, I can’t afford” it, he said. “That was nice, because a lot of people have to fight for even that, but no.”

Who is he going to support? “The winner,” Honda said.

He’s not the only California politician who skipped the chance to secure a seat in the one-year-old Levi’s Stadium. KQED reported that Gov. Jerry Brown and Santa Clara Mayor Jamie Matthews aren’t going.

While Honda, and his 2016 Democratic opponent Ro Khanna, aren’t using a local Super Bowl as a chance to raise money, at least one politician is fundraising off the game.

California Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, who is running for governor, is offering donors to his gun safety ballot initiative a chance to win an all-expenses paid-trip to the game, including airfare and hotel and tickets on the 40-yard line.

sarah.wire@latimes.com

Follow @sarahdwire on Twitter

Advertisement

Read more about the 55 members of California’s delegation at latimes.com/politics

Full Super Bowl coverage

Panthers vs. Broncos: California delegation makes their picks


Advertisement