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    City won't get 2007 Super Bowl

    The game will instead be played in South Florida, an NFL official confirms.

    By RICK STROUD, Times Staff Writer
    © St. Petersburg Times
    published April 23, 2003

    TAMPA -- Tampa Bay may be home to the Super Bowl champions, but it will have to wait a little longer to host the NFL title game again.

    A league official confirmed Tuesday that Super Bowl XXXXI in 2007 will be awarded to South Florida instead of Tampa Bay.

    "The Commissioner (Paul Tagliabue) will present his recommendation that South Florida will get the game, unless there are any objections, at the NFL owner's meeting in Philadelphia (next month)," Jim Steeg, NFL senior vice president for special events, said Tuesday.

    Although neither made a formal presentation to the league, Miami and Tampa Bay were considered finalists for the Super Bowl in 2007. But a factor in the decision was that Raymond James Stadium was the site of the NFL championship in 2001, while Pro Player Stadium had not hosted the game since 1999.

    If the league's owners approve Tagliabue's recommendation, South Florida will be granted its ninth Super Bowl. Tampa Bay has hosted three: Super Bowls XVIII, XXV and XXXV.

    The timing of Steeg's announcement surprised some Tampa Bay officials. Although many Tampa Bay representatives -- including Bucs owner Malcolm Glazer -- had been informed in February that Miami was the front-runner, they were unaware the issue had been decided until Tuesday.

    "I feel like I've been caught with my pants down around my ankles," said Paul Catoe, president and chief executive officer of the Tampa Bay Convention and Visitors Bureau.

    "I'm disappointed we didn't get a chance to compete head-to-head. We enjoy the competition and the fight, but we didn't get to compete or fight. I don't feel like a jilted boyfriend because we'd never gone out on a date. But we would have liked to have known before everybody else."

    Tampa Mayor Pam Iorio was surprised Tuesday to learn Tampa would not be getting the Super Bowl in 2007.

    "We have been so successful in the past," said Iorio, who described herself as a huge football fan who watches games every Sunday with her teenage son. "We're an ideal city for the Super Bowl."

    Steeg said the NFL decided to play the 2007 game in Florida and skip the presentations since the league is so familiar with the areas from past Super Bowls.

    "Nobody made a presentation. Rather than go through the exercise pitting two cities in the same state against each other, the commissioner decided to recommend one," Steeg said.

    "Miami hosted it in '99 and Tampa had it in '01. We informed the people in Tampa in February the odds were pretty high that the game would go to Miami. Why create the ill will?"

    The silver lining, Catoe said, is that Super Bowl XXXXI will be played in Florida. But he denied a report from the Associated Press that Tampa Bay had withdrawn its bid for the 2007 Super Bowl.

    "I'm glad and thrilled the game will be played in the state of Florida," Catoe said. "But it's not like we decided to no longer pursue it. Personally, I think they should play every Super Bowl here."

    -- Staff writer David Karp contributed to this report.

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