In the spotlight
Super Bowl gives central Fla. an Olympic chance to show off
ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) -- There will be glamour shots of Tampa on television. Movers and shakers in the sports world will be staying in the city's hotels. Thousands of reporters will be imbibing in central Florida bars.
Forget about the game. Tampa's hosting of Super Bowl XXXV provides an opportunity to showcase Florida's bid to land the 2012 Olympics. The publicity from the Super Bowl alone is worth tens of millions of dollars alone in exposure, organizers estimate.
"You get all this international exposure," said Ed Turanchik, president and CEO of Florida 2012, the committee organizing Florida's Olympic bid. "It couldn't come at a better time for us."
Anchored by Tampa, Florida is competing with seven other locations to be the U.S. candidate for a 2012 Olympic bid. Olympic venues would be considered in Fort Lauderdale, Gainesville, Jacksonville, Miami, Ocala and Orlando.
The other U.S. locations vying against Tampa are the Baltimore-Washington area; Cincinnati; Dallas; Houston; Los Angeles; New York; and San Francisco.
Only Tampa gets to host a Super Bowl before the U.S. Olympic Committee makes a decision next year, an opportunity Olympic bid organizers hope to use to their advantage. The International Olympic Committee chooses a host city in 2005.
"It's one more arrow in the quiver that we can use to show that we can handle these things and that we can be responsive to the needs of large sports crowds and we can provide them with great hospitality," said Bill Johnson, president of the Tampa Bay Sports Commission.
While the main goal is to show that the Tampa area can host an Olympic-sized event, Florida 2012 officials will be doing other things to put its efforts in the public eye.
They will have a Florida 2012 float in the Gasparilla Festival featuring such Olympians as softball player Dot Richardson. Commemorative Super Bowl pins with the Florida 2012 logo will be passed out. VIPs at the Super Bowl will have a chance to meet privately with former Olympians.
No Olympic officials have been invited by Florida 2012 to the Super Bowl in light of recent disclosures of bribes given to Olympic officials for votes. But "if they're here and they choose to come here on their own volition, that's their prerogative," Turanchik said.
The Super Bowl is the first of several sporting events that Florida 2012 officials hope shows off potential Olympic venues in the Tampa area. These events include a triathlon sponsored by the International Triathlon Union next month, a Junior Olympics Tae Kwon Do competition this summer and bid for the 2004 Olympics qualifying competition in swimming.
Super Bowl visitors will see the regions' strengths in their best light, said Tampa Mayor Dick Greco. That would include two well-run airports in Tampa and Orlando, the beaches and the proximity to Walt Disney World.
"We've looked at the other cities competing and Tampa looks real good," Greco said.
Tampa may want to look toward another southeastern city that more than a dozen years ago hosted a national event that served as a launching pad to a successful Olympic bid.
Atlanta's hosting of the 1988 Democratic National Convention showed that "we had the infrastructure and the talent in the city to host events like that," said Bill Howard, vice president of marketing for the Atlanta Convention and Visitors Bureau.
"It made the statement that Atlanta was capable of hosting major events," he said. "It gave us high profile publicity, not just nationally, but internationally."