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Tourists and a photographers' convention push the NFL playoff team to a St. Petersburg hotel.
By JANET ZINK, Times Staff Writer
Published January 3, 2008
TAMPA - A busy tourist season and photographers convention slated for Tampa left the New York Giants scrambling to find a hotel for the football team for this weekend.
Unable to find enough rooms near Raymond James Stadium, the team has settled on a hotel in St. Petersburg, said Giants spokesman Pat Hanlon.
The Giants face the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in a Super Bowl playoff game Sunday. Visiting football teams typically stay in Tampa.
But Hanlon said the team didn't have details on the day and time of the game when they were trying to book nearly 200 rooms last week. They wanted to find a hotel with enough vacancies for Friday and Saturday nights.
"There was a tough time finding space available for both nights," Hanlon said. "Bottom line is that we were able to locate at hotel in St. Pete that had both nights available and had experience hosting an NFL team."
Hanlon wouldn't say where quarterback Eli Manning and his teammates will be staying.
But it's not the Renaissance Vinoy Resort & Golf Club in St. Petersburg. That hotel turned the team away.
"We physically couldn't hold them on such short notice," said the Vinoy's general manager, Russ Bond. "They needed a lot of meeting space."
Travis Claytor, a spokesman for Tampa Bay and Company, the convention and visitor's bureau for Hillsborough County, said the hotel crunch in Tampa is due to a busier-than-normal tourist season and a conference of the Professional Photographers of America that runs today through Jan. 9.
The photographers conference is expected to draw about 5,100 people.
With most hotels in downtown Tampa already sold out, Claytor said, convention participants are booking rooms in the West Shore area.
But even if downtown and West Shore are filling up, Giants fans coming to the area for the game shouldn't have a hard time finding a place to stay.
"Rooms in those two areas may be a little slim," he said. "But with 20,500 rooms in Hillsborough County, I'm sure there are rooms out there. It's just finding them."
Claytor suggested finding them using a hotel search on the bureau's Web site at www.visittampabay.com.
"In this day of technology, the online search is the best tool people have these days," he said.
According to Bob Morrison, executive director of the Hillsborough County Hotel/Motel Association, the Marriott hotels in the West Shore business district and at Tampa International Airport each have 100 rooms available this weekend.
Times staff writer Cristina Silva contributed to this report. Janet Zink can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 813 226-3401.
Bucs vs. Giants
1 p.m. Sunday, Raymond James Stadium, Tampa
TV/radio: WTVT-Ch. 13; 103.5-FM, 620-AM.
For ticket information: buccaneers.com.
[Last modified January 2, 2008, 23:25:43]