Officials Worry About Impact Of Government Shutdown On Super Bowl

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There are still three weeks to go before the Super Bowl, but officials in Atlanta are already scrambling to cope in light of the ongoing partial government shutdown. With no end to the shutdown in sight, Super Bowl planners have been left with no choice but to make the best of the situation — which could have serious implications for the upcoming game.

Senator Johnny Isakson has already spoken at length about the shutdown — and the potential impact it could have on the Super Bowl. Already, planning meetings scheduled for the Atlanta game have been canceled, and airports have been seriously hampered by the effects of the shutdown. Should it continue on at this rate, TSA workers could be dealing with massive game day crowds at the world’s busiest airport — all without receiving a paycheck.

“When we work on something as big as the Super Bowl — the biggest spectator event in the country — it takes us a lot of time to plan on extra airplanes and traffic,” National Air Traffic Controllers Association representative Dan McCabe said in an interview with NBC News. “We’re going to keep the event safe, but we want it to be an enjoyable event for everybody. It’s frustrating that I know it won’t be as good as it could be.”

Officials say they could be looking at an additional 1,500 flights per day during the week leading up to the Super Bowl, which could put a major strain on TSA agents already run ragged due to the shutdown.

And the shutdown has already caused a lot of problems at airports, even before the number of passengers and flights has gone up. Travelers at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport have already complained of being stuck in security lines for up to three hours at a time. On a normal day at the airport, about 60,000 to 80,000 people are screened. But that number could swell to an astonishing 110,000 passengers on the Monday after the Super Bowl, as people pack up to head home.

The issue is compounded by TSA agents who are now working without regular pay. Some are protesting being forced to work without receiving a recent paycheck, and many others are using their sick days to call in — and skip out — on work during this tumultuous time. Unfortunately, this leads to less security at the airport — which could lead to a lot of problems as game day draws near.

Should the shutdown continue through the February 3 event, federal employees tasked with security during the event will also not receive immediate pay for their work.