St. Petersburg Times: Super Bowl XXXV
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Super Bowl XXXV Tampa, Florida 2001
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  • The Road to Super Bowl XXXV

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    Stars, but no Denzel; he's working

    By BABITA PERSAUD, PAMELA DAVIS, KELLY RYAN, JEFF HARRINGTON, and CHRISTOPHER GOFFARD

    © St. Petersburg Times, published January 20, 2001


    Sorry ladies, Denzel Washington's not coming to Tampa.

    He was scheduled to appear at An Evening with the Stars at the Wyndham Harbour Island Hotel on Jan. 27, a benefit for the United Negro College Fund.

    Washington had planned to attend, but work interfered. "He's working on a new movie," said his publicist, Alan Nierob.

    A location shoot Saturday through Monday on Super Bowl weekend will keep him in Los Angeles.

    The movie is called Training Day. Washington plays a corrupt cop.

    Organizers promise plenty of other stars for the event, though none with the same wattage as Washington: Debbie Allen, Vivica Fox, James Ingram, Evander Holyfield and Peter Warrick of the Cincinnati Bengals, among others.

    IT'S NOT ALL FOOTBALL: A different sort of Super Bowl experience is on tap this weekend: Tampa's Black Heritage Festival, with its booths of carved tribal art, African clothing, incense, oils and jerk chicken at the downtown Franklin Street mall.

    It's one of many official Super Bowl events, planned to coincide with the game to take advantage of the out-of-town visitors. "We're a new event, and for them to put their stamp of approval on it, it was like, "Yes!' " said Geri Kelly of Tampa, one of the organizers.

    "The value of it is to give the community a chance to look at not only traditional African art but also black Americana," said Jacquelyn Bradway of Lakeland whose booth features everything from tribal sculptures from the Ivory Coast to reproductions of early-20th-century Cream of Wheat ads.

    "It gives the vendors the chance to display what they think is the African-American experience."

    A CONCERT CROWD: We've heard the scoop with the Pregame show theme "Life's Super in Central Florida," but what does MTV have planned for the halftime show?

    A concert.

    And locals will be in it. Sort of.

    Not singing or dancing but as fans, swarming around the concert stage.

    MTV hand-picked the masses -- 1,000-3,000 people -- from Tampa high schools, churches, colleges and other places. And what will they have to do?

    Scream and holler for 'N Sync and Aerosmith.

    They won't be there for long. The "fans" will be bused to Raymond James Stadium for the halftime show and bused out.

    CALLING ALL BEDS: In the Super Bowl mood yet? A bowl of a different sort takes place at 8 a.m today at Al Lopez Park, near Raymond James Stadium. The Bed Bowl, with five-person teams trying to wheel decorated beds down a winding path. Decorated beds will be judged in a beauty contest.

    It's a fundraiser for the YMCA and it's open to the public.

    CRANKY IN THE MORNING: Don Imus must have his Stairmaster. A top of the line model, at that.

    Talking Friday about his trip to the Tampa Bay area Jan. 25 and 26, here to broadcast his popular Imus in the Morning radio show live from the Westin Innisbrook Resort, Imus told his listeners that he is demanding the best Stairmaster equipment available and was having trouble getting it.

    Not so, says Innisbrook.

    "He has made a lot of requests and I'm convinced we will be able to satisfy all of them just like we do for any other celebrity," said Cindy Cockburn, director of public relations at Innisbrook.

    Cockburn said George W. Bush requested exercise equipment during his stay at the resort in October and the staff had no problem getting it for him.

    Imus will be staying in the resort's penthouse, the same room Bush occupied.

    R-E-S-P-E-C-T: Pinellas School Board chairman Tom Todd is offended. So, he has written a letter to Bucs owner Malcolm Glazer.

    Todd has heard that elected officials around Tampa Bay area were offered the chance to purchase Super Bowl tickets.

    And as far as he knows, that honor was not extended to School Board members.

    An outrage, he says.

    "I personally believe that those who serve as School Board members hold the highest office in local government," Todd wrote in a Jan. 18 letter.

    "Is there any greater responsibility than doing everything possible to improve the opportunities for our young minds to achieve at the highest possible level? Today's students are the future of this great nation."

    Todd said he doesn't even want to go to the game.

    His wife, Barbara Sheen Todd, is on the Pinellas County Commission and she was offered the chance to buy two $400 tickets.

    The Todds decided they couldn't afford them, so they sold the tickets for face value to friends.

    "I just think it's right that School Board members rank as high as some other people, including commissioners," Todd said Friday. "I am not asking for anything. I don't expect anything."

    Except respect.

    NO MALL RATS: Vacancy-plagued Tampa Bay Center, located a Hail Mary pass away from Raymond James Stadium, is making the most of its prime location.

    The 895,000-square-foot mall, which is 68 percent leased (translation: 32 percent vacant), is renting out two of its empty storefronts for a pair of private, corporate parties.

    Center officials won't give details on who is taking what space.

    The mall has to capitalize where it can because its control on game day, like most businesses around Ray-Jay, is limited.

    The NFL controls all the parking around the stadium on Super Bowl Sunday, says mall leasing manager Courtney Hayes. That includes a 300-space parking lot on the west side of Tampa Bay Center off Himes Avenue, which will be converted into an entertainment complex for fans.

    So does heavy traffic mean the center has a golden marketing opportunity? Any big sales planned?

    Nope, says Hayes. "We're really just being used for parking."

    - Compiled by Babita Persaud, Pamela Davis, Kelly Ryan, Jeff Harrington, and Christopher Goffard. Babita Persaud can be reached at (813) 226-3322 or persaud@sptimes.com.

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