Super Bowl XLIII is still more than 10 months away, but plans around Tampa Bay — which will host the Super Bowl for the fourth time — are beginning to take shape. Here are answers to some frequently asked questions: from how you can get tickets to where you absolutely, positively don't want to be the day after the game.
When and where will Super Bowl XLIII be held?
The game is Feb. 1, 2009, at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa. Kickoff will be around 6:20 p.m. The game will be televised by NBC and broadcast on radio by CBS Radio/Westwood One.
How do I get tickets?
Either be very connected or very lucky. Approximately 75 percent of the tickets go to the NFL teams: about 17.5 percent to each of the competing teams, about 5 percent to the host Buccaneers and a little more than 1 percent to the other 29 teams. The league controls nearly all of the rest. But there is hope: approximately 1 percent (650 tickets or so) will be sold to Joe Public through a random drawing.
How do I get my name into the random drawing?
Requests for the drawing will be accepted until June 1. All entries must include a home address, phone number and e-mail address and must be sent via certified or registered letter. Only one request per address will be accepted. You will be notified in October or November if you are eligible to buy Super Bowl XLIII tickets. Requests should be sent to:
Super Bowl Random Drawing
P.O. Box 49140
Strongsville, OH 44149-0140.
What about handicap-accessible seating?
There is a separate random drawing for that. The deadline is Sept. 1. Entries should be sent to:
Super Bowl ADA Random Drawing
National Football League
80 Park Ave.
New York, NY 10017
What if I don't win the random drawing. How much can I expect to pay for tickets?
Face value for this year's game won't be set until the fall. At the Super Bowl in Glendale, Ariz., last season, tickets were $700 and $900 (depending on seat location). But StubHub and other online ticket brokers are already listing prices from $2,600 for upper deck corner seats to nearly $12,000 for club seats.
What will the Bucs do with their allotment of tickets?
The front office and ownership group will get their share. So will the coaches and players, as well as major sponsors. And if you own a luxury suite, it's probably in your contract that you'll have a chance to buy some Super Bowl tickets (for example, if you own a 16-seat suite, you might be able to purchase eight seats in a suite and eight in the stands). As for general season ticket holders, don't get your hopes up. With only about 3,600 tickets at their disposal, the Bucs haven't announced any plans to offer game tickets to season ticket holders.
How much do we know about the events that will go on during Super Bowl week?
Not much, yet. The NFL Experience (the interactive football fan park) will be back. There will be a big game-day tailgate party near the stadium. The popular Taste of the NFL event (featuring chefs from each of the league's 32 cities) will be held the night before the game again. And expect tons of parties.
There's a Celine Dion concert at the St. Pete Times Forum scheduled for Wednesday of Super Bowl week. The Lightning has asked the NHL for home games on that Tuesday and Friday nights. And the Times Forum is reserved for a "concert" on Saturday night, although no word yet on who that might be.
We won't find out about pregame and halftime performers until the fall.
Will they be looking for volunteers again?
Absolutely. The Tampa Bay Super Bowl Host Committee, which is organizing the local effort, will be looking for 6,000 volunteers to serve as greeters — at hotels and airports and other venues — and to work at the NFL Experience. Although the official application won't be available until around April 1, you can submit your name to the host committee now through its Web site (tampabaysuperbowl.com).
How can minority-owned businesses get involved?
The NFL has an Emerging Business program that provides area minority- and women-owned businesses information on Super Bowl procurement opportunities with NFL contractors. You can get listed on the business resource guide by submitting the appropriate application through the host committee Web site (see previous answer). There is an Emerging Business Workshop scheduled for April 17. Details are on the Web site.
How many hotel rooms will be used?
The NFL has reserved 19,000 rooms, from Orlando to the bay area beaches, to house the teams, league officials, sponsors and the media. Additional rooms are set aside for fans of the competing teams (which only find out two weeks before the game that they're coming).
Can I rent out my house for Super Bowl weekend?
Organizers believe that because there are adequate hotel rooms and because most visitors are only in town for 3-4 days, there won't be much demand for private homes. Neither the NFL nor the host committee plans to provide assistance in renting private homes.
Have they solved the traffic problems that plagued the last Super Bowl here?
Well, not holding Gasparilla the same weekend will help. And I-4 has been expanded since then, so that should help traffic coming from Orlando. All major construction projects in and near downtown Tampa will be suspend for the two weeks around the game, which should also ease traffic problems.
Any other advice?
Don't try to fly out of Tampa International Airport on Feb. 2 (the day after the game). The place will be a zoo.
Jack Sheppard, Times sports editor