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WUSF's coverage of Super Bowl LV at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa on Feb. 7, 2021.

Tampa Reflects On A Pandemic Super Bowl

Tampa Mayor Jane Castor addresses the media at the Tampa Convention Center the day after the Buccaneers won the Super Bowl.
City of Tampa / Facebook
Tampa Mayor Jane Castor addresses the media at the Tampa Convention Center the day after the Buccaneers won the Super Bowl.

Tampa bathed in the glow of the Bucs' Super Bowl win over the Kansas City Chiefs. The mayor said the city got to show its best face to the world Sunday night.

The top officials who planned Tampa's Super Bowl in one of the worst years imaginable reflected on their effort the day after the big game. They said the preparation for the game went as well as could be expected.

Rob Higgins is head of the Tampa Bay Sports Commission. He said the region had a chance to showcase what it can do in the middle of a pandemic, and it will get a chance to shine again.

"There's going to be other cities that have bigger stadiums and bigger hotels and bigger regions," Higgins said. "I'm biased, but none of them have a bigger heart."

His co-chairman of the Super Bowl Committee, Derrick Brooks, was on the field the last time the Buccaneers won a Super Bowl, back in 2003.

"We had a game plan that had to change. We had to pivot. And then we had changes to those pivots as we went along," Brooks said. "But everybody went along. We had the proper attitude that we were here to do a job."

That job meant fielding what NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell called "an extraordinary effort" to pull off the biggest game in the country.

"The folks down here know how to do events. They know how to support and partner, and the people here really have been quite extraordinary. So, we're thrilled and want to thank each one of them."

Tampa Mayor Jane Castor vowed to hold some type of celebration this week in the wake of the Buccaneers' Super Bowl victory. More details will come later. Castor said the city showed its best face to the world Sunday night, in difficult circumstances.

"There are only three other cities that have hosted five Super Bowls. And so we're used to doing this, and we're used to doing it well. So they throw us a pandemic right in the middle of it. It's nothing that we weren't able to handle and to handle safely," she said.

Castor said whatever kind of celebration will take place, she'll work to make sure it's done safely, as well.

Castor said Tampa got to show its best face to the entire world Sunday night.

"This may not have been the economic boom that we wanted it to be, if we hadn't had to do this during the pandemic," Castor said, "but everybody came together and ensured that the rest of the world got to see that we get to live in paradise."

Steve Newborn is a WUSF reporter and producer at WUSF covering environmental issues and politics in the Tampa Bay area.