Could the International Indian Film Academy Awards be as big as the Super Bowl in Tampa Bay?

"It's about the international following that Indian films have," said Santiago Corrada, the president and CEO of Visit Tampa Bay, the new name for Hillsborough County's tourism agency. "So there's a huge following. They sell lots of Bollywood DVD's in America."

In recent years the Indian film industry has mushroomed to the point where double the amount of films are produced in Bollywood instead of Hollywood (1,000 to 500, according to the International Business Times.

And much of that growth is here in the States. South Asians — Indians, Pakistanis, Bangladeshis and Sri Lankans — are one of the biggest growing segments of the U.S. population. But according to, the box-office growth of the Indian film industry is larger than the population growth. The publication credits distribution and exhibition practices that have made Bollywood productions more accessible than ever for U.S. fans.

The IIFA takes advantage of their worldwide popularity to hold the annual awards show in different countries. Previous host cities include Signapore, Toronto, Columbo and Bangkok.

Corrada said that while Tampa has hosted some of the biggest events in the country, like the Super Bowl and last year's Republican National Convention, the city has never participated in an event with a large international interest like the IIFA Awards. "We need to have more of these international events here," he told CL on Monday. He also commented on the dashed hopes Tampa felt when vying to host part of the World Cup, and what that might have meant for the region.

Sounding like a man who has boasted about Tampa Bay for a lifetime and not just the past few months (he spent the last decade serving as chief-of-staff to Mayors Iorio and Buckhorn before joining the tourism agency this spring), Corrada said "a lot of these events not only have a room-night impact but an exposure impact, and it's hard to quantify what that exposure means. But it's not a bad thing while this event is being shot world-wide to have shots of the Forum and shots of Tampa."

Interestingly, with all of this talk about bringing Super Bowl-like money to the region, nobody has quoted an exact dollar amount. Then again, there's debate about how much money the 2009 Super Bowl actually brought to the area; PricewaterhouseCoopers projected it generated approximately $150 million.

If the IIFA awards brought in even $50 million — a third of that projection — most folks would be pretty darn happy. But you won't hear anybody say, "The IIFA could have a third of the economic impact the Super Bowl did," will you? Not nearly as catchy.

  • Visit Tampa Bay CEO Santiago Corrada

On Tuesday, July 2, a group of local officials from the Tampa Bay area will fly to Hong Kong where they will then take a ferry to Macau for the International Indian Film Academy (IIFA) Awards, which takes place this Thursday-Saturday.

They're not there to check out India's equivalent of the Oscars per se, but to talk with the organization's top officials about making Tampa the home of next year's IIFA awards.

As initially reported by Bill Varian of the Tampa Bay Times on Saturday, the subhead of his story read, "With an impact called bigger than the Super Bowl, the 'Bollywood Oscars' are a big prize."

No doubt. But seriously, India's equivalent of the Oscars could have the same economic impact as a Super Bowl in Tampa Bay?

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