Costs of Super Bowl security, parade didn't break the bank

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Neither the Tuesday parade nor the Sunday night police presence associated with the Steelers' sixth Super Bowl win will deeply gouge the city of Pittsburgh's bank balance. But with state aid aimed at defraying the costs of big events likely to dip, future parades could have more of a bite.

The parade cost $79,500, including the overtime due to some of the 258 police who worked the event and the scores of public works employees who toiled throughout Monday night and Tuesday to set up and tear down thousands of barricades, Public Safety Director Michael Huss said yesterday. Super Sunday security cost around $500,000, driven by overtime paid to many of the 653 police officers on duty that night.

Costs could have been higher if other governments hadn't provided manpower and materials.

For instance, 85 state troopers helped the city Sunday night, and some two dozen on Tuesday. Allegheny County police and sheriff's deputies, and Port Authority police also helped.

Allegheny, Lawrence, Washington, Beaver, Fayette, Greene and Westmoreland counties provided some of the thousands of barricades, which their employees delivered Monday night, free of charge.

"I think we set a precedent yesterday for a lot of our parades," said Mr. Huss, noting that the keys were the use of the broad and long Grant Street and Boulevard of the Allies, the barricades and the manpower. "To get through that large an event, with an estimated 350,000 spectators, without one single arrest, is both a compliment to the people that participated, and to the police officers that worked the detail."

The city is expected to log a 2008 surplus of around $30 million when the books are closed, so the costs won't bankrupt it.

"Obviously, these are costs that should be shared past city residents," said Council Finance Chair William Peduto.

The state's annual subsidy to the city is meant in part to defray the costs of big events. That subsidy may be going down.

Yesterday, Gov. Ed Rendell made public a budget that zeroes out some state-backed programs, and would cut the state's allocation to the city for hosting regional events in half, to $3 million.

"Those dollars, fortunately, are back in this year's budget," said Mr. Huss. "They're a little bit smaller than they have been in recent years."

Mr. Peduto said the cut's "impact is minimal. It is $3 million out of a $450 million budget." That said, he'll try to ensure that it is reflected in the city's long-term plan, which now counts on nearly $6 million in state help annually to get it to a barely balanced position in 2011 through 2013.

Mr. Huss said the city started planning its parade "several weeks" before the Super Bowl, but kept it under wraps to avoid jinxing the team.


Rich Lord can be reached at rlord@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1542.


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