The College Football Playoff national title game will kick off in five days at Raymond James Stadium. That's just one part of what has become an enormous event. Here's what's going on around Tampa Bay area from now until then, beyond the signs and statues continuing to go up in downtown:
Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn and College Football Playoff executive director Bill Hancock are scheduled to hold a news conference this morning at 11.
The media will get a sneak peek at the fan central area at the Convention Center on Thursday afternoon, and it opens to the public Friday ($10 at the door for adults; $5 for seniors, military and students; children 12 and under get in free). It's open from 3 to 8 p.m. Friday and from noon to 8 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Expect games, pep rallies, band performances and more.
Teams will arrive sometime Friday. Clemson plans to practice in the morning and fly in afterward.
The Playoff Playlist Live concert series is all weekend at Curtis Hixon Park: from 5 to 11 p.m. Friday and from noon to 11 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Friday's performers include the Shadowboxers, Clare Dunn and Eric Paslay. Saturday will feature the Cold War Kids, Rachel Platten and Flo Rida, and Sunday will include concerts by Jamie N Commons, Gavin Degraw and Usher.
Want to gawk at reporters or talk to your favorite players? Media day is Saturday beginning at 9 a.m. at Amalie Arena. ESPN will also have a set near Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park.
The Extra Yard 5K is Sunday at 8 a.m. at Amalie Arena. The event raises money for Extra Yard for Teachers, the playoff's charitable arm. Registration ends Thursday.
If you're hungry, you can check out the Taste of the Championship from 7 to 10 p.m. Sunday at the Florida Aquarium. The $250 event includes food from area restaurants like Ava, Bern's Steak House, Roux and Ulele (among many others).
In Pinellas County, Clearwater Beach's Pier 60, above, will host a beach bash from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday. It will include games, live music and appearances by the teams' bands and cheerleaders.
The official tailgating event will be from noon to 6:30 p.m. at Raymond James Stadium on Monday. ESPN will be there, and Dierks Bentley and the Shadowboxers will perform. It's free — as long as you have a ticket to the game.
Find more info on events leading up to the College Football Playoff title game at www.tampabay2017.com