Hillsborough County will get money for Super Bowl security as long as Gov. Ron DeSantis doesn’t veto the planned appropriation.
The budget, which lawmakers are expected to approve Thursday, includes $1 million for Super Bowl LV security. Inclusion in the budget is a major win.
The Senate included in its budget offer in the Transportation, Tourism and Economic Development Appropriations committee a $1 million offer, but the House had not matched that offer as of last Monday.
If left intact, 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 line 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 in 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.