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A field guide to the celebrities

Ricky Martin at a Holiday Inn on the beach? Rumors and stars proliferate as Super Bowl day gets closer.

By KATHRYN WEXLER

© St. Petersburg Times, published January 25, 2001


TAMPA -- Word that Ricky Martin himself would grace the sheets of the Holiday Inn in St. Pete Beach shot around town faster than you can say, Tampa Loca. Surely the homey hotel was the perfect, outlandish hideout for a star who positively exudes hip.

It was so weird, it had to be true.

NOT.

"I wish it was," said Holiday Inn manager Roberto Lijewski. "We heard that too. Unfortunately, he is not staying here."

Granted, there is bound to be some bad information out there, given the explosion of celebrity sightings and second-guessing.

Yet, the odds of having a brush with greatness have never been better here. Famous bods are storming the city. The number of strapping athletes is reaching critical mass. At the Tampa Convention Center, the media's talking heads are blathering on about linebackers and lap dances.

Even if you don't have the most sought after ticket in the world this weekend, a little footwork and a lot of determination could earn you an autograph for the ages.

For athlete groupies, check out the Wyndham Westshore Hotel, where the New York Giants are holed up. Baltimore Ravens fans might want to head to the Hyatt Regency Westshore. Granted, security is so tight, President Bush would have to show ID to get beyond the lobby. Forget about ambling up to Ray Lewis' bedroom door to ask how things are in Baltimore these days.

Still, you've got to figure that even football players take the elevators.

And a drive down Dale Mabry Highway at the right moment could result in a glimpse of Britney Spears, MTV's Carson Daly, model Daisy Fuentes, Olympian Marion Jones or singer Sting.

Alas, the stars, those very people who live and die by publicity, aren't publicizing their whereabouts. The Don CeSar Beach Resort and Spa in St. Pete Beach is said to be housing some, but general manager John Marks is mum.

"Out of the respect and privacy of our guests, we don't disclose that information," he said.

Harrumph.

Fortunately, the NFL isn't so circumspect. Their events cost, but a little money goes a long way toward rubbing elbows with the famous.

Try the Game Day Tampa Bay Gridiron Celebrity Hoops event at the University of Tampa's Bob Martinez Center at 7 p.m. Friday. The NFL says it will be an all-star basketball game featuring 'N Sync, 49ers wide receiver Terrell Owens and Miami defensive end Jason Taylor. The entry fee is $7.

The Player's Masquerade at the Museum of Science and Industry is from 9 p.m. Friday though 3 a.m. Saturday. With tickets starting at $60, the NFL promises professional athletes and celebrities, hosted by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers players.

On Saturday, NFL players will be on hand at the Cuban Club in Ybor City from 3 to 8 p.m. Those tickets go for $8 for adults and $5 for kids.

-- Staff writer Amy Wimmer contributed to this report.

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