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'Clean Zone' to limit vendors

Selling gimmicks lending to a "circus atmosphere'' would be barred in a mapped area around the Super Bowl.

By CHRISTOPHER GOFFARD

© St. Petersburg Times, published November 28, 2000


TAMPA -- Hundreds of entrepreneurs are expected to try cashing in on the crowds expected to hit town for Super Bowl XXXV, but the city hopes it can keep the area near Raymond James Stadium from turning into a free-market free-for-all.

The city will consider banning inflatable ad balloons, streamers, roving food vendors, open-air cooking and other potential nuisances around the stadium for 12 days in January.

The so-called "Clean Zone" would stretch roughly from Lois Avenue east to Glen Avenue, and from Hillsborough Avenue south to Palmetto Avenue, and would include Tampa Bay Center mall and Tampa Bay Office Park.

The intent, according to a draft of the proposed ordinance, is to stave off "ambush marketing" that might create a confusing and ugly environment. The zone would take effect at 12:01 a.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 17, and end at midnight on Monday, Jan. 29.

Tampa Sports Authority Chairman David Mechanik, who helped draft the proposed ordinance as a member of the Tampa Super Bowl Task Force, said it was intended to make the area around Raymond James Stadium "more uniform-looking and not so much a circus atmosphere."

The ordinance will also keep official NFL vendors from having to contend with unlicensed competitors.

It requires vendors to operate out of stores or set up shop in tents, which must be no smaller than 600 square feet and white in color. It also bans streamers, pennants, banners and balloons.

Mechanik said the ordinance was modeled after one adopted by St. Petersburg for last year's Final Four college basketball tournament at Tropicana Field.

He said the NFL requires cities to promise to create such a zone when they bid for the Super Bowl.

Mechanik said a "First Amendment Area" will be set aside at Columbus Drive and Himes Avenue for people to assemble and speak out.

Flouting the ordinance would bring penalties up to a $1,000 fine and six months in jail.

"It's to keep the unlicensed vendors and scalpers and nefarious characters away from the stadium," said Councilman Bob Buckhorn. "It's an attempt to put on our best face. I think this makes sense."

The City Council will consider the proposal Thursday.

- Christopher Goffard can be reached at (813) 226-3337 or goffard@sptimes.com.

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