The many businesses of the Super Bowl on location in Tampa

For the Super Bowl, I landed last Saturday night in Tampa, Florida.  Our hotel was about 15 minutes away, so I watched out the window at the scenery while we were on the freeway.  My husband said that he could not tell that the Super Bowl was even happening in Tampa by the looks of things.  He had gone to the Super Bowl the year before and there were billboards everywhere.  In Tampa, not so much.

We had late dinner reservations at a fancy schmancy steak restaurant.  I found out later that NFL teams like to block out reservations at 6-7 restaurants across town so that the players and/or employees can have dinner plans.  Interesting.  No wonder we couldn’t get seated until 9:15pm.  So let me talk about how we had to make the reservations.  My husband had to call and then fax back a written contract stating that if we did not show up, then we would be charged $50 per person.  All this for a dinner reservation?  Maybe since it’s Super Bowl weekend however, it seemed like a lot of work for just dinner.  When we were at dinner, we did see some NFL stars – Donovan McNabb from Philadelphia Eagles, Matt Cassel from NE Patriots, and Mark Sanchez from USC to be in draft this year.  Now I don’t feel so bad with jumping through hoops to eat at the restaurant.

The next day we arrived early to the Super Bowl area.  Parking was $75 and right across the street from the stadium.  The actual stadium wasn’t opened yet, but the NFL Experience was.  Basically the NFL Experience was free for all Super Bowl attendees and closed off to the public that day.  You got to do many NFL game activities such as goal kicking, passing, tackling, etc.  There were also a bunch of sponsors who gave free photos of you with a Super Bowl background.  I’m proud to say that I took 4 photos sponsored by Monster.com, Canon, Bridgestone, and some milk association hahahaha.  The pre-game concert was in the NFL Experience area too – John Legend, but unless you have a ticket, then you can watch via a jumbo screen.  What?  No fun!  At the end of the NFL Experience, we ended up buying a Super Bowl football with our picture on it (yes you read that right)and a signed mini-helmet by Fitzgerald, Warner, and one other Cardinal.

As we started walking into the stadium to our seats, I noticed different closed off areas.  These were pre-game parties that had ticket prices of hundreds of dollars for food and drinks.  I could not imagine paying hundreds of dollars more on top of the already expensive face value Super Bowl ticket prices.  The concessions near my area had three major alcohol brands with their own stations to sell drinks.  Grey Goose had a martini stand with solid ice counter tops.  They also had an ice luge to make vodka martinis.  Patron selling some margaritas I presumed.  Then a rum company, don’t remember the name, who was selling mojitos.  I’m wondering how much these liquor companies pay to have a stand at the Super Bowl and why they weren’t giving anything out for free.  Hmm.

At the seats, like every Super Bowl, each attendee got a seat cushion with some goodies inside.  Bridgestone sponsored the seat cushion, iTunes gave everyone a free download of highlights of the Super Bowl, and Monster.com gave everyone a commerative coin.  In previous years, attendees were given free radios, but not this year.  Budget cuts?  Right before the game started, Al Roker found his seat right across the aisle from my seat.  He wasn’t too into talking to anyone though.  Too bad.  John Legend also walked by my seat.  I must be in the right section.  :)

I’m going to skip the game part because my team didn’t win (Arizona Cardinals).  It’s too painful to talk about the game and I don’t even know if I want to watch the recorded televised game.  I couldn’t bear to see the replays and commentary.

After the game, the street vendors did their thing by selling Steelers paraphanelia.  YUCK!  We did find one guy that was selling Arizona Cardinal Super Bowl champion hats at 3 for $5.  I guess that you’ll never know who’s going to win and might as well prepare for either team to win.  Then I wonder, where do the losing team paraphanelia go?  Another country?

All in all, the Super Bowl is just one big shopping and party fest.  Alcoholic drinks were over $10, pop was over $5, parties were invitation only or pay big moola to get an invitation, and stars galore.  Although my team didn’t win, I had a lot of fun being at the game in person to witness the Arizona Cardinals be the “almost” Super Bowl champions.

Sophia Perl

Sophia Perl is a product manager for a database tool at IBM. She has over 10 years of software development and management experience. Sophia holds a BS in Computer Science from University of Southern California and an MBA from University of California at Davis. She is the creator of iPhone apps PicPredict and Eventabulous.

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