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Party on

Super Bowl madness overruns Tampa on big day

Click here for more on this story
Posted: Sunday January 28, 2001 3:52 PM
Updated: Sunday January 28, 2001 8:38 PM

  Steve Sanzaro Steve Sanzaro resorts to begging in hopes of scoring a ticket for Super Bowl XXXV. AP

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) -- Under clear blue skies, hundreds of thousands of spectators converged onto Super Bowl XXXV on Sunday for the biggest football party of the year.

With excitement of the championship game building minute by minute, neither sky-high ticket prices nor traffic jams hindered the celebration in the hours before the New York Giants took on the Baltimore Ravens at 6:25 p.m. EST.

The morning air was thick with smoke from tailgate barbecues as the crowd grew, including thousands who didn't have tickets for the game but wanted to be in the center of the frenzied celebrations anyway.

They included Tom Januska of San Diego, who planned to use $500 he borrowed from his infant son's college fund to buy a ticket Sunday to his 12th Super Bowl game. He said he was confident he'd be inside the stadium by the time the game began.

Januska, a Redskins fan, said scalpers were charging about $2,800 for seats at the top of Raymond James Stadium, but he was willing to search all day for a better seat or a better deal.

Scenes from Tampa's Super Bowl celebration
TAMPA, Fla. (AP) -- Vendor Dave Ambrosia set up a tent Wednesday to sell NFL and Super Bowl souvenirs. The cost to rent it for five days: $25,000.

"Business is fair," Ambrosia said. "About as good as we expected."

He said that all kinds of people have shopped in the tent, not just those going to the game.

"You can have a great time just hanging out," Ambrosia said.

Another guy rented a lot to fill it with portable bathrooms. A sign read: Women left, men right, $1.

Expensive proposition

Two brothers from Baltimore, Jim and Joseph Goss, acquired their tickets through a lottery offered to Ravens season ticket holders. To the envy of many, they paid just the $325 face value per ticket.

"I thought about selling my ticket to a scalper on my way down," Jim Goss said, "But now that I'm down here I wouldn't sell it for any amount of money."

Jim Goss, 35, is a city firefighter; his brother Joseph Goss, 36, works as a policeman.

"I've spent about $300 already today," Jim Goss said. "I bought shirts, hats, beads, pennants and an outfit for my newborn baby."

Crowded parking lot

Before Super Bowl XXXV could be played on the gridiron, NFL officials had to wage war on gridlock. In one small section near an office park north of the stadium, a battalion of volunteers was hard at work parking 4,000 cars and more than 350 limousines.

"It's a huge operation," said Lee Urness, a supervisor with NFL Transportation.

He said the volunteers are from an organization from the local charity, Somebody Cares Tampa Bay. Each is paid $10 an hour for the 12 hours they work directing cars. The money then goes to help impoverished families in the area.

Home team well represented

Buccaneers fans were out in force Sunday, even though their team wasn't playing in the Super Bowl.

Niki Parrish, 14, of Largo, wandered around wearing a Bucs jersey, while her mother Patsy, 46, sported a pirate hat.

"We are sorry the Bucs aren't playing in the Super Bowl but they are here in spirit," Patsy said. "It's our house."

Niki had a small NY painted on her cheek: "This is because I don't like any team that Trent Dilfer plays for. I hope the Giants beat the Ravens and Trent."

Meanwhile, Chris Wilson was camped out across the street from the stadium. He was sat on top of his van he painted pewter and red - Buccaneer colors. Also emblazoned on the van was his prediction that next year the Bucs will be playing on super Sunday. He was told the paint will wash off, but he isn't totally sure.

Wilson, from Tampa, said he will be rooting for the Ravens, in part because of former Bucs quarterback Trent Dilfer, who was run out of town only to return as the Ravens quarterback.

"I'm going to go for Trent," Wilson said. "As much as I didn't like him at the time, I'm glad he's back." 

"These are people who are out to burn anybody they can," he said. "What I'm looking for is some businessmen who have an extra ticket they are looking to get rid of. It's beer and food money for them and they're usually good seats."

The Salvation Army set up pavilions to hand out NFL-funded food and drinks to stadium security and volunteers.

"It's just crazy," said Kevin Smith, the Salvation Army's emergency disaster services director for Florida. "They're just beat. They are very worn down."

Incidents on the day of the Super Bowl and at overnight parties were at a minimum, police said.

Tampa Police spokesman Joe Durkin said about two dozen people were arrested during the city's annual Gasparilla festival that drew 750,000 people into downtown Saturday. Most of those arrested were for minor battery charges, disorderly conduct or drugs.

Three men from Atlanta were arrested on grand theft and fraud charges after being accused of taking $4,800 from two Maryland men trying to buy Super Bowl tickets, Durkin said.

The men sold the fans bogus Super Bowl tickets that actually were for the NFL Experience, the football-themed amusement park set up next to the stadium that costs $15 to enter.

Durkin said one of the men arrested was wanted by police in Georgia for a similar scam at last year's Super Bowl in Atlanta.

Free enterprise, as well as football, ruled the day.

Sandra Sierra stood outside her small business across the street from the stadium waving fans to park on her property for $100.

"People laugh at me when I tell them $100, but that's what everyone around here is charging," Sierra said. "I've already got 10 people signed up to park here and four or five have already come in this morning."

She said she needs to charge the high parking rates because the big game caused her cruise reservation service and maid service to lose money. Her maids couldn't get to the property to get their cleaning supplies for a week, she said.

"The money we're making for parking these people will not make up for the losses this week in business," she said. "I'll be glad when it's over."

One of her customers was Giants fan Charles McGuire, 22, who was tailgating with a college friend. The two bought tickets from a broker for $2,862.

"I cannot give my name," McGuire's friend said, "because my dad will kill me if he knows how much I spent on my ticket."

Just across the street from the stadium, Punta Gorda restaurant owner Diane Caputo and her 18 family members and their friends were putting on a feast to rival the fanciest sky box spread inside. On the menu: bacon-wrapped filet mignon, pasta, antipasto and live Maine lobsters.

A few hundred feet away, nine community college students from Fort Myers transported their living room to a dirt lot. In a rented panel truck with a generator, they set up a satellite dish and a 58-inch television set that they watched from a worn leather couch.

"This is the next best thing to having a ticket," Clint Gaither said.

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