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Tampa USA

By Times staff reports

© St. Petersburg Times, published January 30, 2001

Tampa is a nice site for the Super Bowl. But you can't imagine the Olympic Games here in the sweaty months of late summer, unless you live here.

The city isn't big enough or fresh enough for the world. But for a one-week festival like the Super Bowl, it seems perfect.

-- Blaine Newnham, Seattle Times

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The personality of Tampa might be best defined by its quest to find one. As recently as 40 years ago it did not have much more than cigar factories, banana ports and Little League fields. Tampa's airport came next, followed by bridges, sports palaces, a convention center and a skyline. The last 15 years have been Tampa's most prolific in terms of growth.

It acquired a Major League Baseball franchise and an NHL team, building new facilities for both. It turned the industrial wasteland of Harbour Island into a waterfront complex of condos, hotels, office space and restaurants. It built the Tampa Performing Arts Center and the Sunshine Skyway, a regal bridge across Tampa Bay. It turned decrepit Ybor City, where Tampa's cigar industry was born, into a trendy nightclub district. Tampa is the urban siren for its surrounding semi-rural counties. Drive a few minutes north and drawls become more common.

-- Hugo Kugiya, Newsday, (Long Island, N.Y.)

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For all the planning, the success of a Super Bowl week can come down to the whim of the jetstream and to however the lines on a weather map are drawn.

Tampa has been allowed to paint the postcard that Atlanta couldn't. Simply for the blessing of the weather not getting in the way.

Over on Clearwater beach, no one is sticking as much as a toe in the Gulf. But visitors are flocking to see the 30-foot-high sand sculpture representing a Ravens and Giants helmet. It is surrounded by smaller sand replicas of every other helmet in the NFL.

They have taken 6-million pounds of sand and built a very temporary illusion. Really, that's what the Super Bowl is all about.

-- Steve Hummer, Atlanta Constitution

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