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A guide to Tampa Bay's best Super Bowl parties

Five you can attend

The Pepsi Smash Super Bowl Bash. It would have cost you at least $75 to see Rihanna, Fall Out Boy and Lifehouse in concert the last time they each came through Tampa Bay. Now you can see them all in one night for just $20. The artists headline the NFL-sponsored concert series Thursday at the Ford Amphitheatre. The next night brings "Pepsi Musica Super Bowl Fiesta," with Enrique Iglesias and Belanova. Tickets to both are $20-$45 from ticketmaster.com.

ESPN the Magazine's NEXT Day Tailgate. The VIP party the night before is, well, for VIPs only. But the fan-friendly outdoor festivities the next day should be fun. Skydivers, pro volleyball players, the USF marching band and a performance by Sean Kingston — all for free. The event is noon to 5 p.m. Saturday in downtown Tampa, near Whiting and Jefferson streets.

DirecTV Celebrity Beach Bowl. Expected to attend this free, star-studded sand flag football event Saturday in St. Pete: Mario Lopez, Cuba Gooding Jr., Brody Jenner, all three Kardashian sisters, Kasey Kahne, Reggie Bush, Phil Simms, Eddie George and many more. It starts at 2:30 p.m. at Al Lang Field, 230 First Ave S, St. Petersburg.

Celebrity Flag Football Challenge. Doug Flutie, Daunte Culpepper, Chad "Ocho Cinco" Johnson and Clinton Portis are scheduled to attend. It's 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Tradewinds Island Grand Beach Resort, 5500 Gulf Blvd., St. Pete Beach. Advance tickets are $10. See sppsports.com.

Bud Bowl. This two-night party near Channelside, featuring concerts by Snoop Dogg and 3 Doors Down Friday and Saturday, is free and open to the public — but tickets are required, and Budweiser is primarily distributing them at area bars.

Five you can attend (if you have lots of cash)

Gridiron Greats Dinner of Champions. The four-day, Mike Ditka-curated "Gridiron Greats" series of fundraisers kicks off at 7 p.m. Wednesday at Seminole Hard Rock and Casino in Tampa with a dinner of champions featuring emcee Bob Costas and scheduled appearances by Frank Gifford, Roger Staubach, Marv Levy and more. Tickets start at $1,000. See gridirongreats.org.

Giving Back Fund's Big Game VIP Event. Hosted by Ashton Kutcher, it's a charity event for the Giving Back Fund, a nonprofit group designed to provide professional philanthropic management for athletes and entertainers. It's 5:30 to 8 p.m. Saturday at a private residence in Tampa (the location will be revealed to those who purchase tickets). Tickets are $1,000. See givingback.org.

Saturday Night Spectacular. Kevin Costner and Michael Strahan host this top-dollar gig, with performances by Cirque USA; Starship Supergroup, a classic-rock conglomerate composed of members of Jefferson Starship, Toto, Survivor and the Dazz Band; and Costner's band, Modern West, at 8 p.m. Saturday at the Pepin Hospitality Centre, 4121 N 50th St., Tampa. Tickets are $875. See saturdaynightspectacular.com.

Inside the Huddle Party. Hosted by the Bucs' Brian Griese and Kevin Carter, with appearances by NFL and celebrity guests, 6-8:30 p.m. Friday at Shula's Steak House, 4860 W Kennedy Blvd., Tampa. Tickets are $500. Another 50 packages are available for up to $7,000 and include one Super Bowl ticket. See judishouse.org.

Taste of the NFL. The annual fundraiser featuring Top Chef host Tom Colicchio, Max Weinberg and the Max Weinberg 7, and players and world-class chefs from every NFL city. Tampa's representative is Marty Blitz. It's 6-9:30 p.m. Saturday at Tropicana Field, St. Petersburg. Tickets are $500-$600. See tasteofthenfl.com.

Five you have no hope of attending

The Madden Bowl. Gamers (both pro and digital) collide for this 15th annual tournament pitting NFL All-Pros against one another in Madden NFL. This year's participants haven't been announced, but Good Charlotte's Joel and Benji Madden will deejay. It's Thursday at the Honey Pot in Ybor City.

The Maxim Party. The best of the best. The men's magazine is renowned for its VIP-only Super Bowl parties, and this year, it'll be even more exclusive — only about 1,000 guests were invited, and many of those are A-list celebrities. Larry David, Tom Petty and the cast of Entourage stopped by in 2008. This year, DJ AM is performing. The party is Friday at the Ritz Ybor. Gawkers, start your engines.

ESPN the Magazine's NEXT VIP Gala. This event on Friday is so exclusive, rapper Lil Wayne can't even get inside — he'll be blogging about it from the red carpet. ESPN is building a massive quad-saddle tent full of bars, lounges and high-tech displays at Whiting and Jefferson streets in downtown Tampa. Wyclef Jean, Samantha Ronson and ESPN's own Marcellus Wiley will perform.

The Commissioner's Party. This annual NFL bash is so secretive that media are only allowed in for a quick glimpse of the setup before the party starts. It's attended by commissioner Roger Goodell, of course, and a host of the league's most prominent figures — owners, retired players, sponsors, etc. It's Thursday at the Tampa Convention Center.

Leigh Steinberg Party. The NFL superagent is known for throwing one of the most lavish Super Bowl parties around, and this year, he spared no expense, booking Lowry Park Zoo for a Saturday afternoon. Highlights of last year's party included a massage cabana and oxygen bar.

Rihanna

Mike ditka

Wyclef jean

A guide to Tampa Bay's best Super Bowl parties 01/21/09 [Last modified: Saturday, January 24, 2009 6:01pm]
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