Volunteers needed to help during championship

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With just three weeks to go until the College Football National Championship kicks off at Raymond James Stadium, Tampa police are taking extra steps to get prepared for the large crowd of football fans.

Members of the TPD tactical team and other local law enforcement agencies mapped out the stadium on Tuesday, walking row-by-row to familiarize themselves with stadium and its layout.

"Even though we work a lot of football games and a lot of events here, and we know the stadium like the back of our hand, we don't take security for granted," said Assistant Police Chief Marc Hamlin.

Tampa police said they are estimating 72,000 fans will fill the seats of the stadium on January 9, and thousands more are expected to spend the weekend in the Tampa to take in the festivities, such as concerts and fan events.

Law enforcement is encouraging people to be on the lookout for any possible threats that could arise with such a large crowd.

"While we do not have any specific threats or credible information, it's very important that we pass the message to the public, our citizens, to remain vigilant and to report suspicious activity when they see it," said Tom Foy, a special agent with the FDLE.

Police said they can not release how many officers will be working each event during the three-day weekend, but there will be officers both in uniform and in plain clothes, as with other major events in the city.

The Tampa Bay Sports Commission is hoping residents will get involved in the football championship by doing more than attending the game. It is encouraging Tampa residents who know the city well to volunteer as ambassadors to the city.

"It's everything from courtesy car drivers to greeters at the airport to the hotel. There's a lot of different ways to get involved in this historic event for our community," said Rob Higgins, executive director of the Tampa Bay Sports Commission. "A big event like this requires all hands on deck."

The sports commission is hiring volunteers to help staff 1,900 shifts for the three-day weekend. Positions include volunteer drivers to help alleviate some the traffic congestion expected around the stadium and greeters to help people find their way from area hotels to the stadium.

Volunteers with be giving free hats and shirts with the championship logo on it. Nearly 400 shifts still need to be filled. If you're interested in volunteering, visit https://2017cfpvolunteers.my-trs.com/.