Hillsborough commissioners give $1 million to college football national championship game
TAMPA -- Hillsborough County will give $1 million to help host the upcoming college football championship at Raymond James Stadium, commissioners decided today.
The Tampa Bay Sports Commission, the nonprofit agency that recruits sporting events to the region and is in charge of putting on the Jan. 9 game in Tampa, will use the money for operational expenses like security and ticket takers, local transportation for the teams, accommodating the flood of national media and adding 6,600 extra seats into Raymond James for the Jan. 9 game.
“This is an incredible opportunity to showcase our community,” Commissioner Ken Hagan said.
The $1 million will come from tourist development taxes, also known as the bed tax, which is collected on every dollar spent at hotels, motels and RV parks.
The bed tax is restricted to certain uses, like building tourism facilities like convention centers or museums, promoting tourism to Hillsborough, and beach and shoreline maintenance. It can also be used to support construction and maintenance of sports stadiums.
Hillsborough has a history of providing financial support to similar events. In 2009, the county contributed $1.5 million in tourist development tax dollars to help put on Super Bowl XLIII at Raymond James Stadium, and it put $1 million toward hosting the RNC in 2012.
With Wednesday’s contribution to the sports commission, approved with a 6-0 vote, Hillsborough tourist development tax reserves will decrease from $4.7 million to $3.7 million.
“We worked really hard in building up the reserves just for the these types of events,” Murman said.
The Tampa Bay Sports Commission successfully bid to host the third College Football Playoff National Championship in 2013. In addition to the game, organizers expect a week of festivities and events, such as concerts.
Hillsborough County is already budgeted to give the Tampa Bay Sports Commission $760,000 as part of its annual contribution to the agency.
Rob Higgins, sports commission executive director, said the additional $1 million from the county is less than 10 percent of the total cost of running the event, though for competitive purposes he would not divulge what that amount is.
Who will play in the national championship remains to be seen. On Tuesday, the first college football playoff rankings of the year named Alabama, Clemson, Michigan and Texas A&M as the top four teams.
Commissioner Les Miller offered his own prediction of who is coming to Tampa in January.
He said: “Clemson and Washington.”