TAMPA — When the Super Bowl came to Tampa in 2001, David Espinola was among the local minority business owners tapped to contract with the National Football League.
Espinola, the owner of Espo's Food Service, fed 2,500 limo and bus drivers on game day at Hillsborough Community College across the street from Raymond James Stadium.
"They had a big screen set up in the gym over there so we could watch the game," he said. "You were kind of in the atmosphere. Even though you weren't at the game, you were kind of at the game."
Now Espinola is among 400 people signed up for a workshop Thursday for minority and female business owners interested in winning contracts for the Super Bowl slated to be played Feb. 1 in Tampa.
In 2001, about 105 such businesses received Super Bowl contracts worth a total of $2.5-million.
"Our goal is to make sure we do better than we did in 2001," said Curtis Stokes, who heads the Tampa Bay Super Bowl Host Committee's Community Outreach team and also serves as president of the Hillsborough County NAACP.
That shouldn't be difficult, said Frank Supovitz, senior vice president of events for the NFL.
Contracts with minority- and women-owned businesses reached $15-million when Miami hosted the Super Bowl in 2007. The year before in Detroit, the figure reached $10-million.
Supovitz attributed the high numbers to the launch in 2005 of a database of local minority- and women-owned businesses on host committee Web sites that NFL contractors can access in the spring before the Super Bowl.
Before the days of the database, the NFL's Emerging Business program, started in 1994, distributed the information in a printed guide in the fall.
Now, the league requires its contractors to search the database for subcontractors and they have more time to do it.
"It's a requirement to report back to us when they used it, how they used it, and what the results were," Supovitz said.
Businesses interested in being part of the database need to be certified through a city, county, state or federal agency.
Bonny Cropper, who coordinates certifications for the city of Tampa's Minority Business Development office, said she has had dozens of requests for information in recent weeks.
"There's a lot of services that they're going to have opportunities for," she said. "Some are for the actual Super Bowl event itself, some are for preparations prior to."
The NFL will be looking for caterers, florists, audio-visual suppliers, general contractors, printers and painters, among other services.
On Thursday, the first half of the NFL workshop will be open to everyone who registered before last week's deadline. Then, qualified vendors will meet one-on-one with NFL contractors.
Janet Zink can be reached at [email protected] or (813) 226-3401.