Big crowds, big spenders
Super Bowl XXXV proved to be a battle of bucks with fans shelling out thousands each for tickets and area residents trying to cash in on the game.
By GRAHAM BRINK
© St. Petersburg Times, published January 29, 2001
TAMPA -- Baltimore Ravens fan Mike Bullard wanted a ticket to the biggest show in town. He fanned out 20 $100 bills in his left hand and another 20 in his right.
"I need a ticket," he yelled within sight of Raymond James Stadium. "And I've got the dough."
Five minutes later, Bullard walked away with his prize in one hand, a smile on his face and $2,900 less in his pocket.
Capitalism was the game outside Raymond James Stadium before the Super Bowl on Sunday, greenbacks the ticket to play.
Longtime Tampa fans noticed the difference between Sunday's spending spree and the more subdued scene outside the stadium for Super Bowl XXV in 1991. Back then, the Gulf War was on, and the country was struggling through a recession. Peace and nine years of prosperity loosened the purse strings. Conspicuous consumption was in.
Nattily dressed men and women stepped from hundreds of stretch limos pulled up outside the stadium. Wads of cash were flashed without a thought. Many, like Bullard, were willing to part with the equivalent of a few mortgage payments to get into the stadium for the four-hour game.
"The money floating around here is incredible," said Himes Avenue resident Rhonda Gretchen. "We didn't see that the last time."
For a piece of the action, car ports were temporarily turned into kitchens to put out $5 burgers and crab cakes. One guy set up a grill in a shopping cart and wheeled around selling hot dogs for $1. Vendors hawked T-shirts, three for $20. Spectators could get their faces painted team colors for a small donation. One woman did a steady business kneading the knots out of the backs of tired revelers at $15 a pop.
Not all the would-be entrepreneurs made out so well.
The three-card monty and shell game players on Himes were shooed away several times. Later, police made several gambling arrests. Some of the vendors said Ravens gear wasn't selling so well, especially compared to Giants merchandise.
And homeowners who dreamed of big paydays for renting out parking spaces came up short. Apparently, too many homeowners had the same idea, even those who don't normally rent out spaces for Buccaneers' games.
Even with thousands of ticketless people flocking to the area to soak up the atmosphere, spaces for $10 to $40 were available within three blocks of the stadium minutes before kickoff.
"Bust city this year," said Jason Griffin, who sat in his half-full lot on Lincoln Street.
If all the consumerism became too much, the corner of Tampa Bay Boulevard and Himes Avenue provided a pitch of a different sort.
A chorus of boos and several choice words greeted Rudi Lopez as he urged film director Spike Lee, who was shooting footage outside the stadium, to find Jesus and "do the right thing."
"I know you are excited about the Giants being in town,"Lopez bellowed into a bullhorn at a crowd of blue-shirted New York fans. "But are you excited about Jesus? Worship Jesus not the Giants."
A stone's throw away, an ad hoc speakers' forum cropped up. Right-to-life activists debated partial-birth abortion. Others wanted the federal government out of their lives.
Bill Craig of Rye, N.Y., ranted about the rights of Vietnam vets still listed as missing in action. He wondered allowed about what the nations' new president -- "Another stinkin' draft dodger" -- would do about the problem.
"Listen up folks, they could be your sons, your fathers," he said. "By the way, go Giants!"
Today's Super Bowl story lineup
- Rockin' Ravens
- MVP caps Lewis' strange journey
- 'We're the greatest of all-time'
- Q&A with Brian Billick
- Modell savors a Super year at last in a different city
- Ravens win doesn't improve Cleveland's mood
- I see your return, and raise you one
- Ravens defense stakes its claim
- Mizell: Trent in land of wonder
- Shelton: Baltimore's defense leaves a lasting impact
- Fry: QB Collins should shoulder the blame
- Ginn: CBS' new replay system a look into the future
- Zucco; For some, it's the party, not the game
- Deggans: Pregame coverage lacked local images
- Auman: Third quarter tests Internet's immediacy
- Trigaux: Ads, not football, supreme in Super Schmooze XXXV
- Giants grasp for answers
- Q&A with Jim Fassel
- Dungy a bit surprised by game's outcome
- Ravens rose on Giants' mistakes
Inside the game
- Super Bowl XXXV by the numbers
- Breathtaking returns: Starks, Dixon, Lewis
- Sehorn coverage error leads to touchdown
- Look familiar? Defense gets ball, offense runs
- First quarter: Play by play
- First quarter: Best & worst
- Penalty negates a big play for the Giants
- Second quarter: Best & worst
- Second quarter: Play by play
- Third quarter: Play by play
- Third quarter: Best & worst
- Best 36 seconds in Super Bowl history
- Fourth quarter: Play by play
- Fourth Quarter: Key Play
- Fourth quarter: Best & worst
- Big game and week before it seen as win for bay area
- What they're saying: Stupidity rules the roads
Beyond the sidelines
- Four bars' patrons quaff winnings of Bud Bowl
- Big crowds, big spenders
- Altruism? That's the (free) ticket
- Many avoid traffic nightmares
- Tickets stolen? Too bad
- Unusual musical pairings bring fire to day's festivities
- Area dancers show pregame joy, nerves
- Corporate America buys star execs ultimate party
- Some just don't care about the big game
- On Super Bowl Sunday, the party's anywhere
- Celebrity watch
- Brought to you by ...