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Tampa's Super Bowl host committee wraps up year of environmental projects

Beyond the football field, those associated with planning 2021's Super Bowl LV have been working hard to make the Bay area more beautiful.

TAMPA, Fla. — It's a tradition in the NFL. Each year, the previous season's Super Bowl host committee passes the symbolic "Golden Shovel" to the next season's host committee.

The Tampa Bay Super Bowl LV Host Committee has been hard at work – well beyond the Buccaneers' historic victory in February at Raymond James Stadium. The committee is committed to leaving a lasting positive mark on the Bay area.

In partnership with the NFL, the Bucs, Verizon, the city of Tampa, Hillsborough County and Keep Tampa Bay Beautiful, the committee will commemorate the culmination of 14 greening projects around the region since mid-2020. 

"They included planting more than 100 shade and fruit trees, mangrove plantings and shoreline restoration projects at Picnic Island, Mosaic Park and Maximo Park, removal of invasive plants and planting of native plants at McKay Bay Nature Park and Lowry Park, the creation of several community gardens, a marine debris clean up, and the restoration of a football field-sized coral reef," the host committee said.

A total of 5,500 trees were planted at Withlacoochee State Forest – 100 for each Super Bowl.

“It has been an absolute pleasure to implement community greening projects in the Super Bowl host community of Tampa Bay and we are honored to have been a part of these legacy initiatives. Great partners made it happen during this unprecedented pandemic year,” wrote Susan Groh, associate director of NFL Green, in a statement.

The ceremonial passing of the Golden Shovel from Tampa to Los Angeles will begin on Sept. 2 during a greening event at Tampa's Picnic Island Park, where volunteers will be restoring and planting sand dunes. It's part of an effort to protect against storm damage and erosion.

The Tampa Bay Estuary Program is helping out, allowing for participants to place 180 cubic yards of sand and more than 3,000 plants. Among them are sea oats, beach elder, dune sunflowers, cordgrass, muhly grass, and railroad vine.

The Golden Shovel handoff will conclude later, when it is formally passed to LA on Sept. 25 – the day before the Bucs-Rams game. Fifty-six trees will be planted that day to recognize the upcoming Super Bowl LVI, which is scheduled for Feb. 13 at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood.