NEW PORT RICHEY — For Pasco County’s tourism promoters, the stars have aligned providing a rare opportunity.
In February the biggest sports event anywhere, the Super Bowl, is scheduled to be in Tampa, delivering tens of thousands of sports enthusiasts, NFL corporate sponsors and others interested in the unique spectacle near the doorstep of Pasco County’s newly-rebranded Sports Coast.
On Wednesday, the Tourist Development Council voted to ask the Pasco County Commission to spend $250,000 for a partnership agreement with the Tampa Bay Sports Commission on the big game which will bring Pasco a portfolio of promotional opportunities.
They include a dedicated area in the Super Bowl Experience venue, a booth at the host committee media party, dedicated space on various social media platforms and the opportunity to provide promotional materials in numerous locations including the media center in the Tampa Convention Center, area airports, hotels and various public and private Super Bowl events.
There is a plan to use local college students to mingle in the crowd wearing their Experience Florida’s Sports Coast gear to talk to visitors. The tourism development team and those representing various businesses and venues catering to tourists will also be participating in podcasts and social media promotions to spark interest in activities in Pasco County, said Adam Thomas, director of the Florida Sports Coast Destination Management Organization.
“It’s a great opportunity for a new brand like the Sports Coast,'' Thomas said. ”We get to tell our story to people who will be visiting here because of the Super Bowl about what Pasco County has to offer, what the Sports Coast as a destination means.''
Another benefit of the sponsorship is 12 tickets to the Super Bowl game itself and other parking and event passes. Two tickets will become a prize for a social media and marketing campaign. Eight go to the venue owners and operators who commit to three years of meeting and sporting events at their locations which will provide the best impact for the county economically and in terms of room rentals.
The last two tickets would go to Thomas and Consuela Sanchez, the county’s sports development and tourism manager.
Thomas explained to Tourist Development Council members that the event would put intense attention on the Tampa Bay area with the last Super Bowls drawing a viewing audience of more than 100 million across 130 countries and bringing in more than 5,800 credentialed media representatives and 125,000 outside visitors.
“We want to be a part of it,‘' he said.
Pasco wants a part given that the game and events surrounding it might mean a need to find over 337,000 room nights to accommodate the onslaught of visitors, which Hillsborough County alone cannot provide, he said. Bringing people into Pasco hotels will mean more bed tax revenue and the county’s tourism tax will be the source of the sponsorship money.
While council members expressed excitement about the opportunities for public exposure for Pasco County, there was also concern about what tourism and large events might look like by February with the future of the coronavirus still unknown. Thomas said the contract will contain a provision to protect the county in case events must be scaled back at that time.