New normal for Super Bowl celebrating during COVID-19

The Big Game

TAMPA, Fla. (KLAS) — Normally, the Super Bowl game is a huge economic boost for the host city but unfortunately that’s not the case with the pandemic.

Last year’s Super Bowl in Miami generated an estimated $572 million in new spending in the three main counties. This year, the Tampa Bay region probably won’t generate half that but even though the party scene is subdued as Tampa hosts its fifth super bowl, some locals are still trying to take advantage of the tourists in town.

People in are getting creative. Some are putting a new spin on an American pastime

“This is what Tampa is all about right here,” said boat owner Mathew Kerkel. “People are looking for stuff to do still and they are looking for safe alternatives.”

With COVID protocols and guidelines in place, fans have had to find new ways to safely celebrate. Kerkel says sailgating with your family or a tight-knit group of friends is a perfect option.

“It’s definitely a great alternative to packing yourself in a bar with a group of strangers.”

Sailgating is the new tailgating providing a socially-distanced way to enjoy the beauty of the area while also celebrating the big game. Kerkel is just one of many boat owners in the bay area, taking advantage of this new trend.

“It’s nice to give people the opportunity to see the world from a different perspective being out on the water and being able to enjoy it,” he said.

Kerkel, who rents his boat out year-round, has been looking  forward to Super Bowl week for the opportunity to make some extra cash with the big crowds

“You know that is what Florida’s revenue comes from — tourism — so I’ve definitely had more interest on getting out on the boat this week.”

While Kerkel is aiming to have a few extra bucks in his pocket as a result of the Super Bowl, he’s also looking at the bigger picture, and hopes the city as a whole will benefit from the added tourism.

“With the hit that it took from COVID over the summertime, we really need some help to bounce back so hopefully this will help and it looks like we are turning the corner on this COVID thing so doors will be open by the summer,” he said.

One downside is the weather in the Tampa Bay area. Kerkel said he had to cancel several sailgating parties due to strong winds in the area but should be back on the water by Wednesday.

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