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Organizers to reschedule date of Bollywood Oscars in Tampa

TAMPA — The Bollywood Oscars will come to Tampa a little earlier than expected.

Organizers of the four-day awards gala — officially known as the International Indian Film Academy's Weekend & Awards — have decided to move up the event date from June to sometime in either March or April of 2014, according to Santiago Corrada, president of the Visit Tampa Bay tourism bureau.

The reason? Crowds and weather.

"We've actually been looking at it for some time," Corrada said. "We need to look for a less rainy season."

Since July, when it was announced that Tampa would be the host city for the IIFA's signature green carpet — the first time the event has been held in the United States — demand for tickets has skyrocketed, Corrada said.

Organizers anticipate at least 35,000 people will attend the main awards show — more than attended 2011's main event in Toronto — with a total of about 50,000 to 60,000 visitors in the area for concerts and other exhibits.

The Tampa Bay Times Forum, which was supposed to host the main event June 12-14, can only accommodate about 8,000 to 9,000 people with a stage expected to be as large or larger than the one used at the Forum during the Republican National Convention. That leaves Raymond James Stadium as the only Tampa venue that can accommodate such a crowd.

Outdoors in June in Florida means rain. So organizers plan to hold the event earlier to avoid it, Corrada said.

Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg was considered, Corrada said. But the time needed to build a big stage and otherwise stage the venue, and hold the event itself, made finding enough time during the major-league baseball season a challenge.

The only time that might have worked was around July 4, but that date presented problems with hotel availability.

A new date has not been set, he said, but the organizers will announce it sometime in early January.

The change presents a set of new logistical challenges, Corrada said. Those include choosing appropriate venues for a host of other events that will accompany the main awards show. Nevertheless, Corrada expressed optimism that the event would go smoothly.

"They're professionals," he said of those organizing the event. "So they'll get it done."

Even preparing for an event so potentially large in June was considered a timeline challenge. Moving it up a couple of months amps everything up. "They're going to be very busy," said Hills­borough County Commissioner Al Higginbotham, who was closely involved with recruiting organizers of the event.

The Tampa awards weekend will be the 15th annual version of the IIFA celebration. Previously, it has gone to cities such as London, Johannesburg, Toronto, Amsterdam and Bangkok. Local officials say past IIFA weekends have generated in the neighborhood of 24,000 hotel room nights with a local economic impact exceeding $11 million for the host cities.

In addition to the local attendees, the awards show will be broadcast to 800 million viewers in 108 countries.

The Indian film industry is huge, turning out 1,255 movies in 2011 — more than Hollywood. (Still, Hollywood's big budgets and high ticket prices generate five times the revenue of Bollywood's $2 billion film industry.)

"Bollywood" originally referred to movies made in Mumbai (formerly called Bombay), but it has become associated with films that can unfold over three hours, with an intermission, combining romance, comedy, action, drama and song-and-dance.

Times staff writers Richard Danielson and Bill Varian contributed to this report.

Organizers to reschedule date of Bollywood Oscars in Tampa 12/13/13 [Last modified: Friday, December 13, 2013 11:39pm]
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