NFL "Laser Focused" On Super Bowl LV In Tampa As Planned
The NFL expects to host Super Bowl LV on Feb. 7 in Tampa as planned, but NFL Exec VP/Club Business & League Events Peter O'Reilly said the league recognizes it will need to be "flexible and adaptable" because of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to Stroud & Frago of the TAMPA BAY TIMES. O'Reilly during a virtual news conference with the Tampa Bay Super Bowl LV Host Committee yesterday said, "We're very confident in our protocols and are very focused on a Super Bowl and a season that ends on Feb. 7 and starts and ends as scheduled. ... (We're) laser focused on Feb. 7." O'Reilly also participated in the unveiling of the Super Bowl LV Experience that "will span 2.7 miles on the Tampa Riverwalk and provide the first all-outdoor venue for the event that is free to fans." Housed at Julian B. Lane Riverfront Park, it marks the "first time the NFL’s football theme park is a partnership between the league and the host committee." Host Committee President & CEO Rob Higgins: "If there needs to be adjustments, we'll be ready to make them. At this point in time, there haven't been any adjustments" (TAMPA BAY TIMES, 8/12).
MOVING FORWARD, FOR NOW: THE ATHLETIC's Greg Auman noted organizers "didn't specifically point to a limited seating capacity for the Super Bowl, but Raymond James Stadium will operate with significantly smaller crowds" for Buccaneers home games. Tampa itself is "in the middle of one of the nation’s highest COVID-19 hotspots." Still, if there was "any suggestion that the NFL would consider moving its centerpiece event to a safer part of the country, there was no sign of it" during yesterday's call. The game's mantra for Super Bowl LV is "Forward. Forever. Together." It is "unknown whether Tampa would be awarded another Super Bowl in the next batch of games to help offset the limited impact that this game will have locally with a smaller crowd due to COVID-19" (THEATHLETIC.com, 8/11).
SIX-PILLAR LEGACY PROJECT: The NFL and the Tampa Bay Super Bowl LV Host Committee announced that the Super Bowl LV legacy project will be called "Forever 55." Host Committee co-Chair and NFL HOFer Derrick Brooks said that the program will commit $2M toward "key pillars, which include early childhood education, food insecurity, health and wellness, at-risk families and sustainability." In Tampa, Brendan Ward reported the "original plan was to have five pillars to signify the five Super Bowls Tampa has hosted, but it recently added a sixth pillar dedicated to systemic justice" (BIZJOURNALS.com, 7/11).