The NFLs Super Bowl Experience at Julian B. Lane Park opens at 5 p.m. today in downtown Tampa, and youre probably not going to be able to go because all the reservations to attend are gone. At a media preview on Thursday, an NFL spokesperson said there is no waiting list either.
Translation: dont even try to walk up and attend.
And its not like you would anyway. Despite a two-week improvement in Floridas coronavirus numbers following the post-holiday bump, the new U.K. variant of the virus is in Tampa Bayand as the Tampa Bay Times points out, that variant believed to be [a] significantly more contagious version of the virus [and] can lead to many more people dying.
But for the folks brave (and lucky?) enough to get a reservation, the NFL has truly pulled out all the stops when it comes to health. The media screening included a questionnaire and temperature check, plus masks required at all times.
At the preview, the NFLs spokesperson would not say how many people will be allowed on site at the Experience at the same time, but a PR rep for the NFL Experience said to the Times that each of several daily sessions at Julian B. Lane could have up to 7,500 fans On Thursday, the NFL spokesperson told media that the number of attendees would fluctuate and be determined by local health officials working in concert with the league. In addition to limited capacity, the event is outdoors (only possible in Tampa Bay, said the spokesperson) and complete with socially-distanced areas for consumption of concessions and every Bud Light product your liver desires.
And truth be told, the NFL Experience is a good time. The home team is playing for a Lombardi Trophy (which will be on site at the Experience, by the way) in its home stadium. For local fans, this is a once-in-a-lifetime affair. And were we not in the midst of a once-in-a-lifetime pandemic, I could offer a full-throated endorsement about how fun it is to kick field goals, throw footballs, run the 40-yard dash and complete obstacle courses. But the fact is that coronavirus is here, and its still putting people in hospitals; some of those folks are ending up in morgues and funeral homes.
So, yeah, there are thousands of reasons to feel OK about missing this one.
Plus, the Super Bowl Experiences chronology of pro footballironically next to the NFLs exhibit about social justice is missing something, anyway, in that theres no mention of Colin Kaepernick who in 2016 staged an extremely peaceful protest against police brutality and the mistreatment of Black Americans only to lose his job.
But if you must reveleven without a ticketthere are other opportunities for you. Downtown Tampas entire Riverwalk is activated from Armature Works (where CBS is broadcasting) to Curtis Hixon Park, a technology village near the Brorein Street Bridge and Sparkman Wharf.
While Julian B. Lane is at capacity, WFLA points out that the Curtwhere local DJs will play and fireworks will go off on Friday and Saturdaywill be open at an undisclosed capacity on all the same days the Super Bowl Experience is open (see schedule below).
Plus, the City of Tampawhich on Thursday issued an outdoor mask mandate for event zones including Ybor City and South Howardhas said it's less focused on enforcement and more on encouragement when it comes to preventing the Super Bowl from becoming the Super Spreader Bowl.
So, to sum it up, the Super Bowl Experience looks like a fun and safe-as-it-can-be-in-a-pandemic time. Youre probably gonna miss it, but thats OK. This is the one time when missing a once-in-a-lifetime event might save yours or someone elses life.Ray Roa
Super Bowl Experience hours of operation
Friday, Jan. 29 5 p.m.-10 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 30 10 a.m.-10 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 31 10 a.m.-8 p.m.
Monday, Feb. 1 closed Tuesday, Feb. 2 closed
Wednesday, Feb. 3 3 p.m.-10 p.m. ?Thursday, Feb. 4 3 p.m.-10 p.m.
Friday, Feb. 5 10 a.m.-10 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 6 10 a.m.-10 p.m.
Sunday, Feb. 7 closed, go watch the Super Bowl safely at home