By all accounts, Tampa put on a first-class Super Bowl during challenging times. The National Football League is, once again, impressed and appreciative. That’s because visitor-friendly Tampa–for the fifth time–came through. From logistics, optics, overall coordination and pre-event planning to COVID protocols and February weather. When we look good, they look good.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has spoken of Tampa Bay’s “can do attitude” and praised “how they get things done.” He also underscored “how extraordinary Tampa has been working through” pandemically-unique circumstances. Then he pivoted to a bottom line of considerable local interest. “I think (successfully planning for a pandemic-impacting event) will be a big consideration in (owners’) minds when they do sit down and vote (on upcoming Super Bowl sites).”
Recall that Tampa, which last hosted in 2009, was not the original scheduled host for 2021. It was Los Angeles. But its new stadium fell behind construction deadlines, and Tampa—with that “can do attitude”–was asked to step in. Next year LA gets SB LVI. Then it’s Glendale, Arizona in 2023. New Orleans was pushed back to 2025 to accommodate Mardi Gras. That means 2024 is TBD. Well, why not determine that it will be Tampa Bay again? We bailed out LA—but obviously couldn’t cash in like the old SB days. We hosted an event that would likely be, to quote USF public health professor Dr. Jay Wolfson, a “petri dish for community spread.” Tampa Bay took one for the team. Now the team needs to respond in kind.