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WUSF's coverage of Super Bowl LV at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa on Feb. 7, 2021.

Tampa Area Businesses Vie For Super Bowl 55 Spots

Man at table talking to three people
Dylan Rudolph
WUSF Public Media
Café Ala Carte co-owner Michael Planas gives his pitch to the panel of the NFL's Business Connect Program. He was among 1,200 businesses looking to be awarded a contract for the 2021 Super Bowl in Tampa. "

Super Bowl 54 ended less than a month ago, but plans for next year’s big game in Tampa continue. One sector where activity is picking up is with local businesses that want to work at the game and surrounding events.

The Tampa Bay Super Bowl 55 Host Committee held its second “pitch day” Tuesday at the Embarc Collective in Tampa.

Local vendors had five minutes to tell a panel of three officials their reasons why they should be considered, followed by three minutes of questions.

Each presenter was asked about the capabilities and capacities of their company, as well as testing specific products that the businesses have like the food that will be served and the golf carts that will transport fans and employees.

The organizer, the NFL’s Business Connect, is a partnership program between the league and the Tampa Bay Super Bowl 55 Host Committee designed to give local businesses owned by women, minorities, veterans and LGBTQ businesspeople opportunities to contend for contracts.

Over 1,200 businesses applied by the Feb. 14 deadline, and only around 250 slots will be allotted for the program.

READ MORE: Tampa Starts Preparations For 2021 Super Bowl

Helmet on table.
Credit Dylan Rudolph / WUSF Public Media
WUSF Public Media
Helmet with logo for The Tampa Bay Super Bowl 55 Host Committee displayed at the pitch event.

Once it narrows down the field, the program officials will refer the selected vendors to contractors, who will then work out contracts and plan the logistics for the businesses’ involvement in the Super Bowl.

Michael Planas is co-owner of the mobile gourmet coffee business Café Ala Carte. Planas, a Cuban American, said after his pitch that he was appreciative of the chance for local businesses to shine on one of the nation’s biggest stages.

“It means a lot to us that a lot of the different sports teams and convention centers like to locally source their events,” he said. “It’s not a situation where a Starbucks is going to come in and try to do what we do... They would rather keep it in the area for people who are going to support their local companies and their own teams. It’s great.”

The NFL launches the Business Connect program in every Super Bowl city, with the local operation kicking off in November of 2019.

“The fact that the NFL, and our local host committee, has made a commitment to be more intentional about engaging local diverse businesses to really be at the forefront of being able to provide and fulfill contracts of the contractors directly is huge,” Director LaKendria Robinson said.

Tampa last held the Super Bowl in 2009; next year will be its fifth time as host.

The Business Connect program is expected to fill the slots in the coming weeks.

“We are less than 350 days to hosting the Super Bowl.” Robinson said, “So when you think about that in terms of our committee preparing, our local businesses really have to kick it into high gear now.”

Dylan Rudolph is the WUSF Radio News Intern for the spring 2020 semester.
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