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

Tampa Bay Mayors Play Up Super Bowl During A Pandemic

man and woman wearing masks stand in front of Tampa and Florida flags
Steve Newborn
WUSF Public Media
St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman, left, and Tampa Mayor Jane Castor

The mayors of Tampa, St. Petersburg, and Clearwater met outside the Tampa Convention Center to assure the public that all precautions are being taken to ensure the Super Bowl will be safe for visitors.

The mayors of the Tampa Bay area's three largest cities met on the day after the Buccaneers beat the Green Bay Packers to become the first home team to play a Super Bowl in their home stadium.

Tampa's Jane Castor, St. Petersburg's Rick Kriseman, and Clearwater's Frank Hibbard gathered under a warm winter sun at the Tampa Convention Center Monday to gloat just a bit.

But that was tempered by the reality of hosting one of the nation's biggest events during a pandemic.

Castor warned the threat of the coronavirus is still with us, and will be front and center for all pre-game festivities for Super Bowl LV.

"We are having all of our events outside. Timed, limited capacity during those timed events," Castor said. "And so we are doing everything that we can to keep the community safe. But there's that level of personal responsibility. Everyone needs to ensure they're wearing a mask when they can't six-foot distance."

Tampa Mayor Jane Castor, left, and St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman at the Tampa Convention Center
Steve Newborn
Tampa Mayor Jane Castor, left, and St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman at the Tampa Convention Center

Her comments were echoed by Kriseman.

"All of us in Pinellas County and Hillsborough County, the cities of Clearwater, St. Petersburg and Tampa — we take it (the pandemic) seriously," he said. "And so you can feel comfortable coming here and knowing that you're going to be coming into an environment that is safe."

Santiago Corrada, head of the tourism marketing group Visit Tampa Bay, said hosting the big game during a pandemic will give a much-needed shot in the arm to the region's ailing hospitality industry.

"I can't tell you of one other city in the United States that if they could wouldn't change places with us in a heartbeat," he said. "I like to say that the Super Bowl is a three- or four-hour commercial for our home, because that exposure is priceless."

When the game is held February 7, Raymond James Stadium will be filled to only about one-third of its capacity. And more than 7,500 vaccinated health care workers will get free tickets to the game.

Tampa Mayor Jane Castor speaks at the event
Steve Newborn
Tampa Mayor Jane Castor is flanked by St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman, to her right, and Super Bowl Committee head Rob Higgins, in dark suit to her left

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