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Ybor City is NFL party central

By BABITA PERSAUD

© St. Petersburg Times, published January 25, 2001


Welcome to historic Ybor City, Tampa's entertainment district. A hundred years ago, this was where immigrants rolled cigars, worked, socialized and raised families who became the roots of Tampa.

Today, Ybor is still the pulse of the city.

On Super Bowl weekend, that pulse beats even faster. Cheap Trick is performing. The Budweiser Clydesdales will parade. The Whassup Guys will make an appearance.

The Cuban Club is being revamped for a party on each level. NFL players will sign autographs. Family and adult fun is planned. Here's the lowdown:

BUD BOWL, street party along Seventh Avenue, 5:45 to 10 p.m. today, noon to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday, noon to 6 p.m. Sunday. Free.

Kickoff with Budweiser Clydesdale-led parade down Seventh Avenue at 5:45 p.m. today. Cheap Trick (Surrender) on outdoor stage at Seventh Avenue and 15th Street, 8:45 p.m. Friday. Three Doors Down (Kryptonite) plays at 8:45 p.m. Saturday. The Whassup Guys will make appearances throughout the weekend. Also, exotic animals, sports booths, sand sculpting and Bud World, educational mobile unit on beer. Sampling available (21 and up only).

Call (800) 410-5244 or check out http://www.budbowl.com or http://www.budweiser.com. NFL PLAYERS PARTY, official party of the NFL Players. Cuban Club, 2010 Avenida Republica de Cuba, 7:30 p.m. to 3 a.m. Friday; 3 p.m. to 8 p.m. (family) and 8 p.m. to 3 a.m. Saturday; 2 p.m. to 1 a.m. Sunday.

This is your chance to get autographs and pictures, as the NFL players will pop in periodically throughout the three-day event. Scheduled to appear: Derrick Brooks and Warrick Dunn of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Isaac Bruce of the St. Louis Rams, Daunte Culpepper of the Minnesota Vikings, Tony Siragusa of the Baltimore Ravens and more.

For this party, the Cuban Club will be transformed into four different bars. The first floor is a sports bar. On the second will be a cigar and martini bar with cigar rolling demonstrations, smooth jazz and a live salsa band. On the top floor is a South Beach disco. And in the courtyard, a steel drum band.

The Players Party kicks off on Friday with a red carpet Premiere Party at 7:30 p.m. Light heavyweight champion Roy Jones Jr. will co-host. Code Magazine, a men's style magazine, will hold a small fashion show with NFL players. You can play pool, shoot hoops and get autographs from players. Cost: $40 in advance.

On Saturday, the Cuban Club opens at 3 p.m. for a family-oriented event with Sony NFL GameDay 2001 games set up throughout the venue. Cost: $8 adults, $5 kids.

At 8 p.m., the atmosphere becomes adult again, with a comedy show with Mo'nique. Cost: $40 advance.

On Sunday, the game will be shown on big screens. Super Bowl tickets will be given out every half-hour before kickoff, the winners whisked away via limousine. Cost: $15.

Tickets for all parties are available at Ticketmaster, (813) 287-8844 or (727) 898-2100.

A TASTE OF SOUL: Player cook-off, cooking contest. Full Moon Saloon, 1613 E Seventh Ave., 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. Friday, $20 advance, $25 at door.

NFL players and chefs from ethnic restaurants around Tampa Bay duke it out over a hot stove. Those who attend get to taste and decide who is the best. Live jazz entertainment. Autograph sessions. Judging begins at 3:30 p.m. Call (800) 289-6187.

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