Can you spare a dime? Or $1-million?
Local Super Bowl organizers say they need $12-million to stage the event, $8-million of that from private sponsors. They're 80 percent of the way toward that fundraising goal, not much better than three months ago. Why? The economy, says Reid Sigmon, executive director of the Tampa Bay Super Bowl Host Committee. But he still believes the money will be in before the bills have to be paid: "There continues to be a great deal of interest." The newest sponsors: Publix, Pulte Homes, Walter Industries, Syniverse Technologies and CBS radio.
Sign me up
More than 6,000 people have volunteered to greet visitors at airports and hotels. They will also lend a hand in host committee offices, point the way to buses and staff the NFL Experience, a weeklong, football-themed amusement park. Volunteer training began in October and continues through early January. Another 600 or so volunteer roadies will help set up and tear down the stage for the halftime show — featuring Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band — and pregame entertainment. NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy said they're using volunteers to get locals involved — and reduce costs. Not known yet: When, and if, they'll need volunteers to run on the field and dance around the stage in front of the Boss.
The NFL canceled plans for a free concert and fireworks at Vinoy Park in St. Petersburg. "We're focusing on other events," the NFL's Brian McCarthy says. But there will be plenty of star-studded parties with admission prices ranging from $15 to $1,000. Entertainment and fashion magnate Diddy, top, and boxer Winky Wright co-host parties Jan. 29-31 at the Venue in St. Petersburg. Celebrity DJ Samantha Ronson, center, Lindsay Lohan's better half, is booked to perform at the ESPN the Magazine NEXT Party, Jan. 30 in downtown Tampa. On Jan. 31, you can choose between Jenny McCarthy and Terri J. Vaughn, bottom. That's when McCarthy welcomes guests to a fundraiser for autism research at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino. At Clearwater's Feather Sound Country Club, Vaughn, an actor and three-time NAACP Image Award winner, will headline a chocolate-treat-themed bash and show her documentary about black women in Hollywood.
Plenty of room at the inn
The bay area's Super Bowl bid included a promise to provide 20,000 hotel rooms from Orlando to the Pinellas beaches. So far, there's been no rush on rooms. "The pace is slower than when we had the game back in 2001," said Bob Morrison, executive director of the Hillsborough County Hotel/Motel Association. Morrison says the companies that in a bull market would waste no time booking Super Bowl junkets for executives and clients are thinking more carefully about expenses.
Keeping it safe
State and federal law enforcement officers will help with security during the Super Bowl. They will staff special events and screen people entering the stadium on game day. The FBI and Immigration and Customs Enforcement will be watching for counterfeit tickets and merchandise. Last year's surveillance uncovered an array of merchandise, including a fake autographed jersey selling for $2,000. Buyers — and sellers — beware.
With more than 100,000 out-of-town visitors expected for the big game, city and county officials are doing what they can to make the place look good. Hillsborough County plans to upgrade intersections on Howard and Armenia avenues in West Tampa with brick crosswalks and landscaping. The city of Tampa is considering sprucing up parking meters with decorative sleeves near the Tampa Convention Center and the Marriott Waterside. That's headquarters for thousands of media types and the NFL. A new ordinance created a clean zone around the Convention Center and the stadium to maintain a uniform look for vendor booths.