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Vendors smell a super payday at Super Bowl

TAMPA — The Super Bowl isn't just a championship football game.

It's a chance for people to make lots of money.

"Everybody's trying to make a buck off of Super Bowl," said Joe Papy, the city of Tampa's business tax supervisor. "We even had a Deal or No Deal producer call in. They have a contestant who wants to be a hot dog vendor at the Super Bowl. I referred them to the NFL."

The city is working on a "clean zone" ordinance that will set rules for vendors who want to sell merchandise in the days before and during the 2009 Super Bowl, which will be played at Raymond James Stadium on Feb. 1.

"They want to sell shoes out there. They want to sell stuffed animals," Papy said.

One person called and asked about selling turtles with the NFL logo on their shells.

"Once I told him he needed to contact the NFL for permission to use their logo, I think his business idea went into the toilet," Papy said.

"There are some real strange people out there."

One scheme city officials are hoping to deter: house parties near the stadium that charge big admission fees in exchange for all the food and alcohol you can consume.

"They've called and asked where can we rent out houses," Papy said. "The calls that we've gotten were from people out of town wondering where they could go."

Such a party would amount to alcohol sales, which requires a license from the state Division of Alcoholic Beverages and Tobacco and a permit from the city zoning staff.

The licenses and permits are available only to nonprofit organizations, not someone just hoping to make a killing off a house party.

So far, the zoning department has had only one permit request. It's for a game-day party at an airplane hangar near Tampa International Airport.

Papy says anyone who tries to sell alcohol — or anything else, including turtles — in the days surrounding the Super Bowl without the proper permits will suffer the consequences.

"The rules are out there. They have to be enforced," Papy said.

Tampa police Maj. John Bennett, public safety commander for the Super Bowl, said a task force of state and local law enforcement and alcoholic beverage regulators are working together on plans to inform people of the rules.

"We'll pro actively publish what's illegal," he said. "If there has to be some targeted education, we'll do that."

Janet Zink can be reached at jzink@sptimes.com or (813) 226-3401.

Vendors smell a super payday at Super Bowl 09/20/08 [Last modified: Friday, October 24, 2008 3:15pm]
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