Major Bay Area projects crescendo toward Super Bowl LV

Just hours after Super Bowl LIV ended in South Florida, Tampa's mayor picked up the ball and promised to run with it. Super Bowl LV will be held in Tampa next February. 

CONTINUING COVERAGE: As the Super Bowl in Miami ends, Tampa prepares to play host in 2021

"We could not be more excited that Tampa is going to take it all the way," said Mayor Jane Castor. "It will be the best Super Bowl ever."

It will be Tampa Bay's fifth Super Bowl. The first was in 1984.

Historian Rodney Kite-Powell of the Tampa Bay History Center says the surroundings for 2021's game will be much different than even the most recent Tampa Super Bowl in 2009.

"Think about 2009, in the depths of the Great Recession," he said. "Now, in 2021, there are incredible changes with hotels, apartments, and grocery stores. Things we could have only dreamed about downtown in 2009."

In 2009 there was no Water Street, Sparkman Wharf, Armature Works, or Pier District. Projects slated for completion in time for next year's Super Bowl include the 26-story J.W. Marriott and several other hotels that will add more than 1,000 hotel rooms in the downtown Tampa area, plus the first phase of Midtown near Interstate 275 and Dale Mabry Highway.

Similar growth is occurring in St. Petersburg, around downtown and the new Pier District, which will be open months before the Super Bowl.

"This isn't a bunch of host cities," said Rob Higgins, CEO of the Tampa Bay Host Committee. "This is a host community."

Higgins says 10,000 people have already volunteered to help with the event. Castor, Higgins, and Hillsborough County Commissioner Ken Hagen assured NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and others at the handoff event in Miami Monday that Tampa handles large events well.

"We like to say that it's game day every day in Tampa Bay," said Hagen.

The new Riverwalk and water taxis have made it easier to get around Downtown Tampa, but  proposed expansion of the streetcar system and other mass transit solutions are still in the works.

While Tampa Bay will look much different to fans who haven't been here since 2009, some of the massive projects, like Water Street and Midtown, will still be growing when thousands of fans arrive for the Super Bowl next February.