Sunday, December 17, 2017
Business

Hosting Bollywood Oscars is 'game changer' for Tampa Bay

TAMPA — More than a Super Bowl. Less than the Republican National Convention.

That's Santiago Corrada's sense of how much security could be needed when the Tampa Bay area hosts one of the Indian film industry's major awards weekends — the "Bollywood Oscars" — next June 10 to 16.

The International Indian Film Academy announced last week that its 15th annual Weekend & Awards will come to Tampa in 2014. Organizers estimate that the event itself will attract tens of thousands of visitors from around the world.

Corrada, now the president of the Visit Tampa Bay tourism bureau, is in a good position to size up what it's going to take to host the event. Until early May, he was Tampa City Hall's point man for planning big events from Gasparilla to the Super Bowl to last year's GOP convention.

"I believe it will be somewhere between the Super Bowl and the RNC, not to the level of the RNC," Corrada said when asked about security needs during a news conference Monday.

A clearer picture of the gala itself is coming into focus.

The movie stars arriving for the awards ceremony walk the green carpet, not a red one, and local organizers expect that show will take place at the Tampa Bay Times Forum.

Moreover, boosters have put tentative holds on several other possible venues: Raymond James Stadium for a cricket match, the Tampa Convention Center for a business forum, the University of South Florida's Sun Dome or the Florida State Fairgrounds for an "IIFA Rocks" concert.

Organizers anticipate 32 events leading up to the awards weekend.

The weekend itself is expected to include film festivals, workshops for film students and professionals, a fashion and music night, movie premieres, exhibitions, global business forums and celebrity events, all culminating in the IIFA awards show, with post-parties to follow.

"This was a coup beyond the comprehension of most people because the magnitude of the event can only be perceived when you witness it," said Dr. Kiran Patel, the Tampa cardiologist, philanthropist and insurance entrepreneur who supported the bid to bring the event to Tampa.

When 30,000 or more people come to Tampa Bay, he said, it will be a "game changer in many, many ways."

To get ready, local organizers expect to work with Tampa International Airport and do some transportation planning in case visitors are spread out at hotels across the bay area.

Plus, Corrada said, "you always tidy up before you have guests come over. So we're thinking about all of those things."

A working group is expected to begin meeting this week to work on logistical issues.

Organizers said no request has been made for financial support from the public.

"We don't anticipate dollars," Corrada said. "We anticipate in-kind services like we've had for many other events."

In 2009, the city of Tampa said its costs associated with hosting Super Bowl XLIII totaled $1.2 million — $635,000 worth of in-kind expenses and more than $573,000 in cash expenditures.

So far, all the money that has gone into the effort to win the event has been privately raised.

Lutz real estate agent Chetan "Jason" R. Shah, who has done much of the organizing, said he should have a better idea in the next couple of weeks of the private fundraising that needs to be done. But he has no doubt it will be worth the effort.

"Every country that has hosted it before, they want IIFA to come back again and again," he said.

Tampa's competition included Barbados and Dubai, which hosted the gala in 2006.

"We chose Tampa Bay for the infrastructure, strong Asian community and the immense support we have received," Andre Timmins, a founder of the entertainment company behind IIFA, said in a statement released from Macau, the Chinese resort that hosted this year's awards.

With more than 1,000 movie releases each year, the Indian film industry has a global reach. Its movies sell 4 billion-plus tickets annually, more than the 1.2 billion tickets that Hollywood sells in the United States.

In 2012, the IIFA awards weekend in Singapore attracted a reported 30,000 visitors who accounted for 12,000 hotel room nights and generated $18 million in impact to the city.

The IIFA awards weekend historically has attracted 500 or more journalists from around the world and attracts a television viewership of nearly 800 million people.

Francis Vayalumkal is the founder of the India International Film Festival, an annual event in Tampa that showcases Indian films. He said he founded the festival in part to help Tampa gain recognition with international film audiences.

Hosting the Bollywood Oscars will do that and more.

"When you think of film in the U.S., you think of Los Angeles or New York," he said. "It will put us on the map."

Times staff writer Charles Scudder contributed to this report.

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