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Big game and week before it seen as win for bay area
By CHRISTOPHER GOFFARD
© St. Petersburg Times, published January 29, 2001
TAMPA -- They were outnumbered and out-shouted, but for those rooting for the Baltimore Ravens at Raymond James Stadium on Sunday night, that only sweetened the team's 34-7 trouncing of the New York Giants.
But if Ravens fans were happy, the people responsible for bringing the game to Tampa and making sure all went well had reason to celebrate, too.
The game marked the culmination of the biggest, loudest week Tampa can remember, with the city's largest outdoor event -- the Gasparilla parade -- paired with the nation's premiere sporting spectacle.
The lopsided game once again did not match the super hype, but for the city, the spectacle of Super Bowl week may have exceeded expectations. Super Bowl XXXV brought more high-rollers, celebrities, glitz and glamour than the city has ever seen.
While Saturday night brought gridlock to downtown and Ybor City, no major logistical problems were immediately evident on game day.
City boosters have not disguised their hope that Tampa's performance will win it another Super Bowl. How smoothly it all went won't be clear for months, but even the mayor of New York City said it was one of the best he'd ever seen.
Jim Steeg, the NFL's vice president of special events, said the city's lack of top-flight hotels -- which forced thousands of guests to seek rooms in Orlando, including some corporate sponsors and part of the NFL's own staff -- remained a worry.
"It's not ideal," Steeg said Saturday. "It'd be nice to have more top-quality hotels."
The proliferation of stadiums in other NFL cities, and team owners yearning for a Super Bowl of their own, will make it tough for Tampa to repeat its act anytime soon.
But it won't be for a lack of trying.
Early media attention about Super Bowl XXXV focused on Tampa police warnings about the city's anti-lap dancing ordinance. But no arrests were reported by game time, and the city's most infamous nude club, Mons Venus, was packed the night before the game. A line was forming outside the club an hour after the game ended.
Still, police hauled off van loads of scalpers, pickpockets and gamblers nabbed in the blocks around the stadium from morning on. The NFL reserved seats for those who reported their tickets stolen.
Police got some help from a gang of Giants fans, who grabbed a thief caught with his hand in a woman's pocket as he bolted. "They beat him pretty bad," said Tampa police Major K.C. Newcomb.
Other crooks got away, like the man in the Sears parking lot who promised Dave Borucki tickets but instead just took his $2,200 and disappeared. "I got scalped," said Borucki, 39, who came down from Maryland with seven acquaintances, four of whom got tickets. "The worst part was, when I told Sears security, the lady laughed at me."
There were scattered complaints about traffic, no surprise considering the roughly 100,000 people converging on the stadium, where 71,921 saw the game, but there was less gridlock than at Saturday's Gasparilla parade. Downtown and Bayshore Boulevard were back to normal Sunday, however.
Motorists reported no shortage of parking spots around the stadium, and local residents looking to rent out their lawns had to compete for customers.
In the club seats, New York City mayor Rudolph Giuliani, wearing a Giants cap and flanked by three security guys, called it the nicest Super Bowl since 1987's game in Pasadena, Calif. He swung by the stadium Saturday at 11 p.m., in fact, just to take a look. He was impressed. "A stadium like this does so much for a city," said Giuliani.
The mayor's constituents, however, were not so happy with the actual game.
For Doug Zider, a New Yorker who paid $1,000 for his ticket, the night was all pain. Wearing greasepaint under his eyes, as he does at every Giants game he can get to, Zider screamed praise or damnation at the players on every play -- mostly damnation, it turned out.
"This is very difficult to go through," said Zider, 44, early in the second quarter, when things already looked grim. "There's a lot of mistakes being made early on. . . .I have to get a win out of this. I don't think I can go home if we don't.
"I left my wife at home, my kids at home, all screaming because I didn't take them. I figure I'll pay my dues when I get back."
Like everyone else with tickets, Zider jostled past dozens -- if not hundreds -- of people offering wads of cash for seats. He was unmoved. "This is history," he said. "This is stuff you'll see on film 20 years from now.'
Giants fans began streaming from the stadium before the game ended. Ravens fans, however, stayed put.
"I told them I would cheer but not gloat," said Michael Rose, 50, of Baltimore, who sat among a sea of howling Giants fans. A retired CPA, he wore a frizzy purple wig to signify solidarity with his team.
Watching the TV by the concession stand, Giants fan Tim Kulig couldn't contain himself when it looked like the Giants had scored in the first half. He enveloped the stranger standing next to him in a bear-hug. Then the ref took the touchdown away. Kulig stepped away from the stranger and apologized.
"It's very emotional," said the 30-year-old New Jersey man.
People standing in one place in the stands got shuffled along by security guards, even as Ray Charles sang America the Beautiful. "We were listening to Ray Charles with our hands on our hearts and security told us to move," said Lou Ciccarelli, 38, of Atlanta. "That's un-American."
Outside the stadium, before the game, the desperate and the predatory milled among fans pouring into the stadium. "Will Trade Kidney for Tickets," read one plea. "Ticketless from Seattle," read signs worn by a Washington couple who hoped a corporate honcho would pity them enough to sell them a pair for $500.
Fans clogging the streets were so raucous that even the man planted outside the stadium with the Bible and the bullhorn kept admonishing them, "Stop being so fanatical!"
Celebrities on hand included TV personalities Tony Danza, Bryant Gumbel and Frank Gifford, basketball player Alonzo Mourning and NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue.
"This is like a mecca," said Burdis Boyd, a suite concierge for the Bucs, who greeted celebrities as they entered the luxury suites.
- Times staff writers Graham Brink, Jeff Harrington, Amy Herdy, and Kyle Parks contributed to this report.
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