The Senate wants $1 million to fund security infrastructure and transportation for Super Bowl LV in Tampa next year. The House is not ready to kick-off that fundraising request.
House budget leaders had indicated the funding was not necessarily dead, rather the body needs more time to consider the request, which just surfaced in Monday’s latest budget offer. But with budget negotiations likely coming to a close Saturday, it looks like time might run out.
The Senate included in its budget offer in the Transportation, Tourism and Economic Development Appropriations committee a $1 million offer, which the House has not matched as of Monday.
The funding would be appropriated to the Department of Economic Opportunity to “contract with any county hosting a signature event.” In this case, that would be Hillsborough County for next year’s Super Bowl.
“The contract shall provide for security infrastructure and transportation costs to provide a safe and secure event, which includes funding for infrastructure cost, including but not limited to a hard secure perimeter, fencing, magnetometers, entry points, accreditation, directional signage, and transportation equipment, and operating costs for security related transportation,” the budget offer reads.
Next year will be the fifth time Tampa has hosted a Super Bowl, with the most recent game played at Raymond James Stadium in 2009 I which the Pittsburgh Steelers defeated the Arizona Cardinals 27-23.
Security was then and remains now a top priority for city and county officials as large-scale events like that have been considered a potential terrorism target in recent decades.
But a lot has changed since then. The last Super Bowl in Tampa was played before Tampa’s downtown boom and much of the Super Bowl festivities were centered more closely to the stadium itself.
Now, with additions in the downtown area like Armature Works, Sparkman Wharf and the Tampa Riverwalk, festivities will be spread out in a broader geographic area, making security a bigger logistical challenge and, likely, a bigger expense.
“Because it’s not just one location, we actually have multiple situations or sights or venues that are going to be hosting the overall celebration of the event and that makes it even harder because you are not just trying to secure or harden one potential target, you’ve got several and in some cases you have hundreds,” Dave Couvertier, a retired FBI special agent, told News Channel 8 last month.
Tampa Mayor Jane Castor’s office deferred comment to the county. A spokesperson there said the issue was a matter for the Tampa Sports Authority. That agency did not immediately respond to a request for comment.