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Even with slump, some businesses are Super Bowl winners

Terry Kurmay owns Alpha Limousine Service in Pinellas Park.

KATHLEEN FLYNN | Times

Terry Kurmay owns Alpha Limousine Service in Pinellas Park.

The less-than-super economy may be cutting into Tampa's Super Bowl impact, but it's going unnoticed by many local companies that are racking up big game business.

Take Terry Kurmay, who says his limousine business has quadrupled. Other local companies, providing everything from chairs to staffing, have seen their business jump by 10 percent or more.

An analysis by PriceWaterhouseCoopers, an audit and consulting firm, estimated that the floundering economy meant Tampa Bay would reap $150-million in Super Bowl business, about $30-million less than if times were flush. The past two Super Bowls, in Glendale, Ariz., and South Florida, reaped more than $200-million.

But for local businesses hurt by the downturn, a Super Bowl during an economic slowdown spells welcome relief.

Kurmay watched with dismay as 46 of his 48 cars sat idle on New Year's Eve.

"New Year's was terrible. Nobody spent money," he said.

This week, all 48 vehicles will be busy, and he has rented an additional 30. Usually he has 50 to 75 jobs a week. This week, he has 275.

Cars from Kurmay's businesses, including Alpha Limousine & Chauffeur Service in Hillsborough County and Executive Limousine & Chauffeur Service in St. Petersburg, will ferry NFL bigwigs and celebrities like Lindsey Lohan around Tampa Bay.

Larry Miller, manager of Coastal Rental Center in Tampa, has rented out tents, tables, chairs and party supplies. Business is up 15 percent.

"It's great," Miller said. "We appreciate the business."

Lee Biala, manager of Taylor Rental in Tampa, said the company has seen a 10 to 15 percent uptick in January business because of the Super Bowl. The company is providing tents for events at Avila, Steinbrenner Field, Caliente and the Ford Amphitheatre.

Small-biz boost

Some small businesses needed a hand tapping Super Bowl interest. The Super Bowl host committee set up an emerging-business program that promoted local minority-owned businesses.

PIP Printing in Tampa joined the program and saw a 16 percent increase in its January business, vs. a handful of walk-ins in 2001, said sales representative Amanda Moore. The company has printed 5,000 invitations for host committee events as well as parking permits and brochures.

"It's a large portion of business that we could not have otherwise had," Moore said.

Jackie Hill, owner of Catering by Saffron's in St. Petersburg, said she received two contracts worth $6,000 by joining the emerging-business program.

Hungry masses

All around town, restaurants are bracing for a busy weekend, said Maryann Ferenc, co-owner of Mise En Place in Tampa. Her business typically serves 135 guests on a busy weekend night. This weekend, they expect to serve 220 or more. Mise En Place also is providing food for a handful of big parties, including the Touchdown Club across the street from Sunday's game.

There was so much business that Mise En Place couldn't handle it all. It farmed out about $45,000 worth of catering to other local restaurants, hired extra staff, offered overtime and given jobs to local construction workers to help with setup.

"I know that Super Bowl is having a multiplier effect here in Tampa, and we are jazzed about it," Ferenc said.

In just two weeks, Ferenc said she'll make up for an entire year of business that used to come from the development industry.

Times staff writer Janet Zink contributed to this report. Asjylyn Loder can be reached at [email protected] or (813) 225-3117.

Even with slump, some businesses are Super Bowl winners 01/30/09 [Last modified: Friday, January 30, 2009 4:42pm]
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