Despite NFC win, Bay Area tourism losing benefit of two visiting teams

Workers are racing to finish the new Aloft/Element Marriott hotels at Tampa Midtown scheduled to open Thursday. It’s less than two weeks until the Super Bowl at Raymond James Stadium 10 minutes away.

"You can call now. We definitely have rooms to sell," says Trish O’Sullivan, the hotel’s chief marketing officer.

This year’s big game threatens to be a big winner for Bucs fans, but a loser for businesses that were hit first by the pandemic, then a historic NFC championship for the Bucs.

It will be the first time a team in the host city plays in the Super Bowl. It also means fans from just one city will travel to the game instead of two.

Officials at Tampa International airport expect the number of Super Bowl travelers will roughly equal the number of those who passed through the airport on a normal day before the pandemic began.

"We would have hoped to have a fully sold out hotel by now," says Pablo Molinari, general manager of Hotel Haya in Ybor City.

"We are banking on all the Chief’s fans to come to town and stay with us hopefully."

Local tourism officials are forecasting 80-90% occupancy for local hotels during the Super Bowl.

For some Bucs fans, their team in the Super Bowl, in their city, without the traffic jams and crowded airports of past Super Bowls might sound good.

However, fans who make their livings in the hospitality industry or others who benefit from travelers and the taxes they pay on everything they buy here, this Super Bowl may be high on excitement, but low on economic benefits.