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Plans still sketchy for official celebrations

Pep rallies are set for Friday, but a parade and formal festivities next week are unclear.

By TAMARA LUSH and BILL VARIAN

© St. Petersburg Times, published January 23, 2003


TAMPA -- Plenty of partying will take place before, during and after the Super Bowl, but any official celebration involving the Buccaneers won't happen until at least Monday night, when the team comes home.

Tampa Mayor Dick Greco, along with police brass and executives from the Tampa Sports Authority, outlined the celebration schedule during a news conference Wednesday at City Hall.

Fans can gather at two pep rallies on Friday. The first is 7-9 a.m. at Lee Roy Selmon's restaurant on Boy Scout Road. The other is 11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. at Lykes Gaslight Park in downtown Tampa.

If the Bucs win Sunday night, Greco expects fans will flock to the stadium, as they did when the team won the NFC championship. But he said people should plan on celebrating in style when the players fly home.

"Let's save all our enthusiasm for when the team comes in on Monday," Greco said.

Details on Monday's celebration are sketchy, as are any plans for a parade next week.

City officials still are discussing whether to open Raymond James Stadium Monday night. But a celebration is definite, Greco said.

"The parade is a little bit up in the air," he said, "but that's easy to put together."

Meanwhile, officials said there will be no mass viewing of the game on Sunday, at least in Tampa. Though city officials tried to set up a broadcast on a giant video screen, the National Football League said no.

An NFL attorney said such a broadcast isn't allowed under league rules. Officials in Oakland tried to arrange a similar public airing but also were denied.

NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said the prohibition is league policy and applies to all games.

He said broadcasting a game at a large facility -- such as Raymond James Stadium -- could affect ratings for the network that broadcasts the game. The prohibition is written into broadcast contracts.

And there is the problem of copyrights, he said.

"Our broadcast rights are not created so that people can create an event around our games," Aiello said.

Places such as sports bars or even the St. Pete Times Forum, which sometimes allows a vendor to broadcast football games on a portable screen during Tampa Bay Lightning games, are different, Aiello said. The distinction is in creating an event specifically around a game broadcast.

Officials with the Detroit Lions opened the newly constructed Ford Field for a mass broadcast of the season opener, which the team was playing in Miami. Aiello said the league was never consulted, but said the event was different from what was contemplated in Tampa because it was a private event for the families of people who helped build the stadium.

-- Times researcher John Martin contributed to this report.

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