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Many broadcasts welcome live viewers

[Times photo: Stefanie Boyar]
ESPN SportsCenter anchor Suzy Kolber, right, has her makeup touched up at the Harbour Island set.

By SHARON GINN

© St. Petersburg Times, published January 22, 2001


If your quest for Super Bowl atmosphere isn't fulfilled by the NFL Experience -- and for some reason you can't find someone to sell you a cheap game ticket -- you always can head over to Harbour Island and gawk at the dozens of analysts broadcasting live from Tampa this week.

Talking heads have flooded the city, and most of them will be on location at Harbour Island, the NFL Experience or inside the stadium for much of the week.

Most of the "official" CBS and MTV programming will be off limits to the average person. That means teens dying to get a glimpse of Total Request Live host Carson Daly are probably out of luck, unless they call MTV's hotline (see below), manage to get through and are invited to attend.

The good news is that most ESPN and CNN/SI broadcasts are open to the public, as are a few others. That's fun for sports fans, not so much if you were hoping to catch 98 Degrees or Jennifer Lopez performing live.

Visiting sets has become increasingly popular over the past few Super Bowls. Here's a glimpse at what media-watchers can see and do this week:

For hanging out in comfort, nothing beats ESPN's setup at One Harbour Place on the dock overlooking Hillsborough Bay. Most programming is open to the public, and the crew even provides chairs.

"We've learned over the years from Super Bowls that people just kind of find us," ESPN spokesman Rob Tobias said.

On Sunday, ESPN began broadcasting live reports from Tampa for SportsCenter. That will continue all week. Among other things, fans can sit in for Saturday's live Hall of Fame announcement (10:30 a.m.). Starting Thursday at ESPN's set at the NFL Experience, catch NFL 2Night (6:30 p.m. Thursday, 7 p.m. Friday); a special Monday Night Countdown at 6:30 p.m. Saturday; and Sunday NFL Countdown at 11 a.m. Sunday.

CNN/SI also will broadcast from Harbour Island with a set overlooking the bay. Night owls can watch Fred Hickman and Vince Cellini do Sports Tonight every night at 11. The show recently has been revamped to become more interactive, so don't be surprised if cameras are turned to the fans. Analysts might take questions from audience members.

The network's Super Bowl preview (10 a.m. Sunday), broadcast from Harbour Island, also will be open to the public.

Most of Fox Sports Net's programming (The Last Word with Jim Rome, National Sports Report) will be closed sets, but Sunday's 10 a.m. taping of NFL This Morning is open to the public. The set will be on Harbour Island and word is there will be plenty of crowd shots.

Meanwhile, CBS is running a tight (pirate) ship. Throughout all its hours of programming, only The Early Show weather forecaster Mark McEwen will be accessible to fans. From 7 to 9 a.m., he will be doing his forecasts live from the NFL Experience on Friday and from the winning team's hotel on Jan. 29 (the Wyndham Westshore if the Giants win; the Hyatt Westshore if the Ravens win).

Access to MTV is even more limited. It is broadcasting Total Request Live at 1 p.m. Saturday (for MTV) and noon Sunday (for CBS) from the NFL Experience. But it says a ticket to the venue won't guarantee fans can see the show. There will be "limited standing room viewing only," according to MTV, and the only way to see TRL or other shows is to call MTV's hotline at (716) 929-4232 and register.

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