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Super Bowl 55 closes Tampa’s signature park for a month

Julian B. Lane Park will host the NFL Experience in the run-up to Super Bowl 55.
A rollerblader takes a spin through Julian B. Lane Riverfront Park last year.
A rollerblader takes a spin through Julian B. Lane Riverfront Park last year. [ JONES, OCTAVIO | Tampa Bay Times ]
Published Jan. 11, 2021|Updated Jan. 12, 2021

TAMPA — It’s been called the crown jewel of Tampa’s parks. It’s also been called a boondoggle.

For the next month, you can call it closed.

Julian B. Lane Riverfront Park’s 25-acres got a $35.5 million makeover during the final years of Mayor Bob Buckhorn’s administration with a May 2018 unveiling.

The park started shutting its amenities Monday and will be fully closed by Saturday, according to a city news release.

It will be reopened to the public on Feb. 15, more than a week after Super Bowl 55′s final whistle blows.

The reason for the temporary shuttering is because of the massive amount of equipment to set up and take down for the NFL Experience, said city spokeswoman Ashley Bauman.

The NFL Experience will have drill games, league history and trophy displays and virtual appearances by former players along with food and drink options, Bauman said.

Tampa residents will be able to access the park during this period by reserving free tickets through an app that hasn’t yet been launched, she said.

The park’s dog park will remain open after everything else closes, the release stated.

Monday saw the park’s basketball, pickle ball and tennis courts close. The rest of the park follows suit on Saturday.

For alternate tennis and pickleball court locations, visit www.tampa.gov/tennis-and-pickleball. A list of alternate basketball courts can be found by visiting https://www.tampa.gov/basketball-courts.

Other riverfront parks may see restrictions in the coming weeks as the city readies its Special Event Zone, which covers much of downtown and the west bank of the Hillsborough River as well as neighborhoods adjacent to Raymond James Stadium. The situation remains fluid for a first-ever Super Bowl being planned during a pandemic.

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