TAMPA — Preseason games don't begin until August, but it's practically playoff time when it comes to planning for the 2009 Super Bowl in Tampa.
This week, more than 130 representatives of the National Football League are descending on the city to meet with local government and business officials and the Tampa Bay Super Bowl Host Committee.
It's the biggest joint planning week of the year until December, said Reid Sigmon, executive director of the host committee.
"We'll come out of the meetings with a better understanding of the plans and also kind of an understanding of what we need to do over the next few months to keep on track with those plans," he said.
The agenda includes everything from discussions of a gospel concert to recycling and stadium security.
Senior officials will stop by Vinoy Park in downtown St. Petersburg, which is being considered as the possible location for Super Bowl Saturday Night.
The community event debuted during the 2008 Super Bowl in Arizona. More than 30,000 people turned out for fireworks and a free concert by Boys Like Girls and the Counting Crows.
Wednesday, Tampa Mayor Pam Iorio will greet an NFL group meeting at the Tampa Convention Center as they dine on crab cakes, tuna sashimi, Florida lobster and chocolate-banana-coconut bread pudding.
John Moors, director of the Convention Center, said he hopes the menu will win him catering contracts for two major events scheduled for the venue — a Friday night party for up to 3,000 people and a post-game bash.
Iorio will meet Thursday with Frank Supovitz, senior vice president of events for the NFL. Iorio has pledged to contribute $1-million of in-kind services to the Super Bowl.
Those looking for clear signs that the Super Bowl is on its way can expect to find them next month.
That's when the NFL plans to launch a billboard campaign in the Tampa Bay area and promote this season's theme, "Believe in Now."
Janet Zink can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (813) 226-3401.