Super Bowl LV is coming to Tampa. Let that sink in for a moment.
Yes, the NFL’s 55th championship game and showcase event is more than a year away — Feb. 7, 2021, to be exact — but preparations are already well under way for an extravaganza that will fix the gaze of the nation and much of the world on Tampa.
It also means a potential bonanza for local companies that specialize in one of the 30 lines of business — everything from construction to catering — the NFL and its partners need to tap into in order to pull off the most-watched event in sports.
“The expectations are high,” says LaKendria Robinson, director of the Super Bowl LV Host Committee’s Business Connect program, an effort to ensure local companies at least 51% woman-, veteran- or minority-owned are part of the bidding process for Super Bowl-related contracts. “Businesses will have to adjust to some degree to make sure that if they are bidding for a contract with the NFL and the Super Bowl — and especially if they're awarded a contract — the NFL and the Super Bowl will have to be their top priority, because the world is watching.”
Robinson, 31, says the NFL and its partners will award as many as 250 contracts. Their needs are legion: food and beverage, lighting, videography, fencing and barriers, tents, staging, event production, event planning, sanitation, electrical, heavy equipment rental, golf carts … you get the picture.
“My job is to identify the diverse businesses that are the best of the best in those categories,” Robinson says.
Companies that aren’t at least 51% owned by a woman, veteran or minority can still apply to the Business Connect program, Robinson says. As long as they're based in Hillsborough, Pasco or Pinellas County, applicants will be considered in the event the NFL requests a service or product that can’t be otherwise provided.
For newer companies not around for Tampa’s previous Super Bowl, in 2009, the Business Connect program can help with the application process.
“We do professional development workshops because we want to make sure that they're ready for the opportunity,” Robinson says. “We talk about things like preparing a really high-quality response to an RFP and how to finance your business for these types of contracts.”