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Bollywood's Version of Oscars Are Coming to Tampa

Yoselis Ramos

The International Indian Film Academy (IIFA) Weekend and Awards is coming to Tampa next year. This is the first time Bollywood's version of the Oscars will be hosted in the United States.

IIFA has a viewership of more than 800 million people around the world, and has been hosted in a different city in each of its 14 previous years, including London, Singapore, and Bangkok.

City Councilman Al Higginbotham was a part of a group that traveled to China in order to make a bid to IIFA representatives to bring the awards show here. He said this event is a way to bridge two cultures. 

"It is through arts and entertainment that countries are brought together," he said, "That people get a better understanding, the cultures that are different are brought together, because we are really just one people."

As of now, officials expect the awards show to be held at the Tampa Bay Times Forum and have other related events at venues like Raymond James Stadium, Florida State Fairgrounds, and the USF Sundome.

Visit Tampa Bay's CEO Santiago Corrada says so far, no  public funding has gone into this event. The trip to China which Higginbotham and Corrada took to place Tampa's bid to be host city was privately funded.  

Dr. Kiran Patel, local philanthropist and cardiologist, was also among the group trying to bring IIFA here. He says money was not the first thing on the Academy's representatives' minds. 

"They want community support from government. Finance(s have) not even (been) discussed as of yet," Patel said. 

Corrada said Tampa has what it takes to host the big event.

"Tampa will take its rightful place amongst those well-known and highly visited destinations around the world," Corrada said. "It's the right thing, we have the assets, we have the right combinations to rise to that level and it's the job of this bureau with the help of our community and our friends to do that."

Corrada expects Tampa will host up to 32 events in the ten months leading up to the week of the awards show, June 10 to 16. Last year's IIFA Weekend and Awards attracted 30,000 visitors, resulted in 12,000 booked nights of hotel rooms, and generated a financial impact of $18 million for the host city of Singapore.

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