JACKSONVILLE, Fla – Super Bowl visitor Mark Johnson left his hotel and was whisked across the St. Johns River aboard the Skyway monorail (search), where he joined the crowd watching the taping of Tom Arnold's "Best Damn Super Bowl Road Show Period."
"I like the whole setup -- the Skyway is easy to access," said Johnson, 30, of Tampa, who was wearing a New England Patriots hat and Super Bowl windbreaker.
That's what Super Bowl officials will say, too.
Jacksonville, the smallest city to ever host a Super Bowl, has made adjustments because it doesn't have many of the amenities larger cities take for granted, such as a nightlife and numerous hotel rooms, limousines and taxis.
The adjustments include bringing in five cruise ships to provide 3,667 floating hotel rooms and building a downtown entertainment district, which has street performers, temporary stages and bars, and more than 900 portable toilets. Organizers also want visitors to use outlying parking lots, and take the Skyway (search), buses, shuttles and water taxis to get to downtown events and Alltel Stadium (search).
Melvin Jones of Fort Worth, Texas, used a water taxi to reach the events along the St. Johns. He said Jacksonville has impressed him so far.
"In Tampa (which hosted the Super Bowl in 2001), you couldn't see five feet in front of you," said Jones, who was wearing a Dallas Cowboys jersey. "I like it small, I think it's better. I'm here to look for women and drink cheap beer."
Since it was awarded the Super Bowl in 2000, Jacksonville has had five years to develop its plans and see what other cities did to pull off their games and handle the crowds. But it also had to plan for possible terrorism in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.
State and local governments are spending $22 million on security and logistics. The federal government hasn't said how many millions it's spending.
To handle the logistics, Reid Sigmon, vice president of operations for the Jacksonville Super Bowl Host Committee, called on experts in aviation, marine activities, traffic, parking, medical services, communications and security.
"We found the experts and they came up with the plan," he said.
But unlike Houston, San Diego, New Orleans or Tampa, where the last four games have been played, Jacksonville didn't have the required 18,000 first-class hotel rooms required by the NFL for a Super Bowl city. So a key part of Jacksonville's NFL bid was to bring in the cruise ships, something that was done for the 1992 Olympics in Spain and 2004 Olympics in Greece.
"This is the first time it has been done to this extent in this country," Sigmon said.
The Coast Guard is placing a 400-yard security zone around the ships. Coast Guard (search) divers and underwater explosives experts from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms will protect them from possible terrorism. Everyone coming aboard will go through an airport-style security screening.
Another huge component of Super Bowl XXXIX is the jet traffic. Jacksonville International Airport, which averages about 10,000 passengers a day, is expecting up to 35,000 passengers to leave on Monday, spokesman Michael Stewart said. A satellite terminal has been set up in a cargo hangar to help handle the crush of outbound passengers.
Cecil Commerce Center, a former Navy base, is handling most of the corporate jets; as many as 500 are expected. Both teams landed there Sunday.
After getting fans into area hotels, Jacksonville had to find a way for them to get from their hotels to downtown where the events and stadium are located.
Mike Miller, a spokesman for the Jacksonville Transportation Authority, estimates that during Super Bowl weekend as many as 106,000 trips per day may be taken on the Skyway and bus system -- dubbed the Super Looper. It will loop through parking lots and garages and connect to a transportation center near the stadium.
"It will look like a string of pearls as the buses go continuously," Miller said.
Behind the scenes, the operation centers are coordinating with three dozen police and public safety agencies ranging from the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office to the ATF, which has deployed bomb sniffing dogs and brought in explosives experts from around the country.
The agencies will be using a new system called E-Sponder that will allow commanders to instantly share information with multiple agencies. The computer software, developed by Convergence Communications LLC of St. Louis, is costing the city about $75,000 for the Super Bowl.
"We are the glue that allows them to communicate with each other," said Rob Wolf, president of Convergence, who said the system was used at last year's World Series and the presidential debates.
For example, on Wednesday, the New England Patriots were on the way to their practice when an accident occurred ahead of the motorcade. Using the new system, officers were alerted to divert the motorcade. The system has also been used to help catch people trying to sneak into team practices, Wolf said.
Sigmon realizes that there will be problems, but he believes the planning is such that everything will work out.
"It's 'Go Time' " he said.
For complete Super Bowl coverage, go to FoxSports.com.