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|| News Item: Posted 2000-12-20

Countdown to Super Bowl XXXV
By Gary Bogdon, The Orlando Sentinel

40 days from today (12/20) it will all be over. The 'fat lady', actually the Backstreet Boys will do the singing, and there will be no one left in Tampa's Raymond James Stadium but clean up crews.

Photo by Victor Junco/Tampa Tribune

Photo by Victor Junco/Tampa Tribune
As you all know we're talking about Super Bowl XXV, set to kick off in Tampa on Sunday Jan. 28, 2001 at 6:00 PM EST. Warm balmy weather, palm trees blowing in the wind and suntan lotion should be a stark contrast to last year's icy, winter wonderland conditions in Atlanta. But we're not making any promises on the weather.

Tampa Bay will host the Super Bowl for the third time, (Super Bowl XXV in 1991, and Super Bowl XVIII in 1984, remembers that missed field goal) which makes it third on the list for hosting the most.

For those of you who can't remember back that far, members of the media were greeted in Tampa at the Bucs' old stadium by bomb sniffing dogs, SWAT snipers on the roof, and extensive trunk searches by those who feared possible terrorist attacks (like the movie "Black Sunday") while the United States was involved in a little thing called the "Persian Gulf War." Now you're starting to remember.

Republicans were in the White House, and a man named George Bush was President of the United States.

Well 10 years later, and some things never change. Republicans are coming back to the White House, and despite all of the efforts of a lot of people in the state of Florida, a man named George Bush is about to be inaugurated President of the United States, again.

Oh, there are no bomb-sniffing dogs to greet you at the stadium this time, they blew up the old stadium when they built this one anyway. Yet again, it seems like Florida will be the center of attention in January again.

Photo by
Tampa Bay will show off its beautiful new stadium to the world, and a crackdown by local politicians on nudity in local establishments (i.e. Mons Venus) will keep them from showing off anything else. Sometimes it seems like our country is a giant yo-yo, but I'm not sure who is pulling the string or which way were going- up or down.

After a meeting with several very official NFL types this week in Tampa, I have this information to pass along to all of those lucky (or unlucky depending on your political preference) enough who will be covering Super Bowl XXXV.

The NFL will designate a "First Amendment Zone" where protests and those who love to photograph them can gather safely together. This will be at the corner of Martin Luther King and Himes, just outside the stadium. Ironically the first picketer at a Super Bowl was here in Tampa in 1984 protesting something about GTE workers. Some things never change.

For many of you concerned about the lighting conditions in the stadium, I (as well as hundreds of other photographers) have shot there all season using Nikon D-1 digital camera's at 800 ISO, 500 sec @2.8. This exposure is solid throughout the entire field. It does fall off a tiny bit in the endzones, but you can still shoot at this exposure.

Speaking of endzones, that is one of the negative points on the field at Raymond James Stadium, the depth of space in the endzones is very shallow. I would say only about 6 1/2 feet from where you line up on the yellow line in front of you to the padded wall behind you. This will mean very limited space for shooting and I'm sure reducing the number of photographers allowed in this area.

On the positive side, all photographers (and media) will enter the stadium near loading dock D that is the normal entrance that everyone is used to going through for regular season Bucs games. Once entering here and checking in, photographers will then be routed, through the internal tunnels of the stadium and will enter the field at Gate C. A little bit of walk, but nothing compared to Atlanta last year. And hey, no ice storm.

The location of the media photo trailer compound is directly behind/next to parking lot 5, which if you cover regular season games, its the current media parking lot. Dave Cross, is your contact for any questions about the media photo trailers. The drill is pretty much the same as years past.

The NFL will celebrate America's 225th birthday in Super Bowl XXXV pre-game ceremonies with the Backstreet Boys (see 14 year old screaming girls here) singing the national anthem, and Ray Charles will sing "America the Beautiful" prior to the game as well. The NFL says this is the first time the two songs will be performed prior to the start of the game.

Also prepare for a B-2 that will circle the stadium throughout the first song. Then Air Force's elite "Thunderbirds" will then fly over at the conclusion of the national anthem. The field will be covered with other red, white, and blue symbols of the flag.

Again this year, the NFL is providing equipment storage (lockers) for photographer's who need to store equipment or cases. You can ask where these are when you enter the stadium.

The official media center, where you will go and receive your credentials, is at the Tampa Convention Center. Team Hotels, (which is where the interviews will be held earlier in the week) are the Hyatt Regency Westshore for the AFC team and the Wyndham Westshore for the NFC team.

Practice sites (which are closed and no photo access except for the first few minutes for wire service 'pool' shooters) are at the University of South Florida for the AFC team and Tampa Bay Bucs practice facility for the NFC team. The home team will be the NFC champion, and will wear its choice of jerseys.

I hope all of this information is helpful, and if you're looking for more information check out as well as web sites. And remember, despite what you've been seeing on television and reading in your newspaper, we are a friendly bunch of people down here in Florida. We just can't vote.

(Gary Bogdon is the Senior Sports Photographer for The Orlando Sentinel.)

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