TAMPA, Fla. (FOX 13) - In 17 months, Tampa will take center stage as the host city of Super Bowl 55. But once the game is won, the confetti is cleaned up, and the fans leave, officials say local kids will reap the benefits of the game's economic impact.
Former Bucs linebacker Derrick Brooks announced the Forever 55 project, which he says will be the NFL's legacy project for Tampa Bay when the Super Bowl returns in 2021. It'll focus on strengthening education and supporting teachers.
"I've always seen football as a stage to serve the community bigger and better," Brooks said.
The NFL has been bringing legacy projects to Super Bowl cities since the early 90s. As we've witnessed in the Bay Area, these efforts have lasting impacts.
The NFL YET Center, or Youth Education Town Center, in Tampa's Jackson Heights, was built in 2001, accompanying Super Bowl 35. From a game room to a gymnasium, it's a safe place for kids to come during summer break or after school.
"Kickball, basketball, you name it, we have it here," said Diedrea Anthony, Team Supervisor for the City of Tampa. "Our after school program runs about 120 children. Our youth/teen/adult programs are usually between 40-60 a night."
When the big game returned to Tampa Bay in 2009, the NFL donated $500,000 to help YET expand.
"We were able to get a full-fledged studio, which is a television studio, we got a weight room, and we also got a state of the art computer room," Anthony said.
2016 brought another upgrade when the Glazer Family Foundation built them a state-of-the-art football field.
Now, 18 years later, a Super Bowl legacy lives on.
"Sometimes, we play girls flag football or we will flip on the mats," said 5th grader Rashari Mack.
"I'm thankful we've got somewhere to go when our moms are at work and that they actually watch after us," said 5th-grade Emariya Williams.
Both Mack and Williams also participate in cheerleading and gymnastics at the center. Williams even said she hopes to work at the center someday.
"When the kids walk home from here, I want them to know they had a good time but also that this is a safe place, a safe haven, and you are going to get all the love, care and discipline that you need here," said Anthony.
So, when the Super Bowl comes to town, no matter which team scores the most touchdowns, the kids are guaranteed to come out on top.