TAMPA, Fla — We saw the changes Super Bowl LV made in response to the coronavirus pandemic: required masks, enforced social distancing and limiting attendance to the game.
Other changes they made were helping turn around business for local entrepreneurs that had been hit hard by COVID-19.
"It's a grand slam. You can't really get bigger than the Super Bowl and for a one-stop, one-man shop like me, the exposure is great," said Derek Holmes Jr., the owner of clothing brand 25 Thoughts. He was given the chance to create an exclusive shirt design for a Super Bowl party that celebrated the city of Tampa and designs for the Super Bowl Host Committee.
"This is just going to help me push forward. There's an economic benefit but the networking and people I've met are just going to push beyond. With COVID people are thinking more about what they're buying and how they're spending their money and having that kind of validity from partnering with the Super Bowl will make a difference," Holmes said.
The Super Bowl Business Connect Program partnered with 200 local vendors, ranging from cleaning companies to caterers to security firms.
Lock Down Executives was one of the security companies chosen by the business connect program. Colonel Christopher Brown is a military veteran and a veteran of the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office.
"This is one of the most exciting things I've done in my life," he explained while on a quick break from his detail at the CBS Sports setup for Super Bowl LV. "It's been a lot of hard work, but hopefully when we have a debrief after this is all over, people are proud of our work and we can have more opportunities."
Event-reliant businesses struggled during COVID-19 to secure their normal contracts because big events just weren't happening, but working the events leading up to and after the Super Bowl provided a huge boost in revenue that allowed some businesses to re-hire people they had laid off.
The Super Bowl didn't only impact businesses. The Super Bowl LV Host Committee made a goal to impact Tampa Bay through their "Forever 55" initiative. It focused on six pillars: early childhood education, food insecurity, families, health and wellness, sustainability and systemic justice.
One non-profit representing the family pillar, Champions for Children, received a microgrant.
"With this grant, we can hire additional breastfeeding consultants so we can meet the demand of providing high-quality lactation support for families who have no other way to access this type of service. It's expensive and people sometimes don't consider the impact not being able to afford things like this can have on parents and families," explained Amy Haile, the executive director of Champions for Children.
COVID-19 created limitations for breastfeeding clinics that helped families in need, but now they're able to provide more access for a service that can become expensive. By expanding their program, they can create stronger foundations for families without wide support systems in Tampa Bay.
Although some local businesses credit the Super Bowl for an economic boost, there remains debate over how much of an economic impact the big game has on a host city. One study published by the International Association of Sports Economists by a professor at the College of the Holy Cross concluded the actual economic impact of the Super Bowl typically is a fraction of what's touted by the league.
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