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Local group parties with a purpose before Super Bowl

Jennifer Lopez won't be there. Brad and Angelina couldn't find a babysitter. Snoop Dogg is busy getting ready for his big football game. P Diddy? "Never got back to us," said Greg Todd, jokingly. In a week filled with celebrity sightings and hot parties, the one Todd and his band of Bullioneers is throwing Sunday is more shag carpet than red carpet. But for an all-inclusive $100, you can actually get in (a few spots remain). And then walk a few steps right into Raymond James Stadium.

Like most of the parties this week, the proceeds will benefit local charities.

Oh, and if it helps, we hear P Diddy may make an appearance on the stereo system.

Three years ago, the Bullioneers — originally a combination of USF Bulls and Tampa Bay Buccaneers season ticket holders, including former Bulls players Jay Mize and Marshall Smith — decided lugging grills and coolers back and forth to RJS every week was a pain.

So they pitched in and bought an expensive $236,000 storage unit — a house at 3417 Leroy Ave., so close to RayJay you can smell the sweat on Derrick Brooks' shoulder pads.

"Mostly, we did it for fun," said Todd, who works in the insurance business.

They gutted the place. Threw up a half-dozen or so flat-screen televisions. Put in a tiki bar and a BBQ area. And with three bathrooms, why not two keg coolers?

Heck, they even added a children's playroom.

It was a tailgater's dream.

"Then after about the first year went by, we decided we really should do something else with it," he said.

The impetus: Todd's father died from cancer in February. Another friend lost a 5-year-old child to a brain tumor. And club member Rich Mize is a cancer survivor.

"We were having fun," Todd said, "but it made us think. There were other more important things in life."

So in 2007, Bullioneers became a nonprofit dedicated to cancer and children's causes.

Now, when they can, the Bullioneers rent their house for parties, starting at $1,000. They have hosted Christmas parties, birthday parties, tailgating parties. The night before the Super Bowl, it's rented for a private party.

It has been slow — just two of the 10 Bucs home games this year were rented — and plans to rent the house for the whole week of the Super Bowl fell through.

But eventually, Todd and his group hope to be donating hundreds of thousands of dollars to local charities.

"I had no idea what I was getting into," said Todd, a Chamberlain High grad. "It's one of the hardest businesses I've ever run. It's cost us a lot of money."

Last year, Todd said they raised $3,000 for St. Joseph's Hospital at their golf tournament. And the Bullioneers donated 32 turkeys and 100 pounds of dry food to Metropolitan Ministries at Thanksgiving, and six or seven bags of toys to the Child Abuse Council at Christmas.

"You know, when we started this organization, it was based around the house," Todd said. "But it's now more than that. When I hear frat house … well, I hate the term, but I understand it. It's hard to change the perception, but this is really just a group of guys that actually care about the Tampa community in general and are trying to help."

Sunday, just two blocks from one of the world's biggest and most ballyhooed events, the party goes on, red carpet or not.

John C. Cotey can be reached at johncotey@gmail.com.

Fast facts

On the Web

For information, check out bullioneers.org.

Local group parties with a purpose before Super Bowl 01/26/09 [Last modified: Tuesday, January 27, 2009 11:53am]
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