The first time the Tampa Bay Sports Commission bid on the College Football National Championship game they lost to Dallas. Three years later, they won big.
“It's historic,” Rob Higgins said. Higgins is the Executive Director of the Tampa Bay Sports Commission. He said they learned a lot in failure and realized they needed to do more to beat out other cities.
“It starts with the place to play Raymond James stadium really the centerpiece of our bid,” Higgins said. “I don't think we would be sitting here today talking about the College Football National Championship, if we were talking about a 20 year old building. The renovations there have been substantial, new video boards are great, the suites”
The stadium recently underwent more than a 100 million dollar makeover. ABC Action News reporter Michael Paluska asked Higgins if the return on that investment would be worth it.
“Dallas said the event did $308 million, Arizona last year was like $275 million,” Higgins said.
Higgins estimates the Tampa event should garner similar numbers.
How much did it cost the city to win the bid? Higgins said it is a trade secret.
“It's really a long term relationship that we are hoping for,” Higgins said. “So, we keep that, in terms of our bid confidential. It's a really competitive process. So, if we start publicly disclosing what our bid was then at the end of the day it's going to make it that much more difficult to get it back.”
Tampa was alluring to major corporations because there is so much to do in the city. The River Walk, the Tampa Convention Center, ample hotels, walkability all played a role in bringing the event to the Bay Area.
Higgins said all eyes are on Tampa and that’s a good thing.
“You are exposing yourself to visitors for the very first time, you are exposing yourself to global brands,” Higgins said. “These events help build our community into what it is today.”