Tampa's gain of college football title game a win for Manatee County, too

December 21, 2013 

A view at 11 p.m. Saturday from a helicopter above the new IMG Academy Stadium in Bradenton. Find additional images at www.PhotosFromTheAir.com.


Tampa's selection as host of the College Football Playoff National Championship game in January 2016 will no doubt benefit the entire region, not only in direct economic impacts but in future activity as the region gains national exposure.

In January, television cameras will be scoping out our beaches for sure as cold-weather Americans shiver but discover a true paradise exists in winter. Who wouldn't be mesmerized by the Old Florida vibe and beaches of Anna Maria Island?

Current college football championship games boast television viewership second only to the Super Bowl, and that exposure should be priceless for the region.

But for this one game, Tampa hopes to reap a windfall anywhere from $250 million to $350 million.

We expect Manatee County will enjoy some trickle-down effect -- with hotel bookings for the game and with football fans extending their stay with a beach vacation.

College football's foremost event creates energy and excitement that lingers long beyond game day as Tampa builds on the celebrity brought by past major events, including Super Bowls, the Stanley Cup, the World Series and others. The city is proving to be a major sports town.

Manatee and Sarasota stand on the cusp of accomplishing a similar reputation with a burgeoning sports industry that is attracting international events and championships.

Congratulations, Tampa, and thanks. We hope to piggy-back on your success since our sports assets are growing and the calendar continues to add big-time events.

Another plus for IMG

Just this week, Bradenton's IMG Academy cemented an agreement with Major League Soccer to host six teams for 2014 spring training. Friendlies will be held from late January through February at IMG's sparkling new stadium.

The announcement contained a telling statement by an MLS executive, Nelson Rodriguez:

"We considered several locations to serve as the Eastern home for the preseason and, with consult from our clubs, we chose IMG Academy for the combination of its world-class facilities, ideal weather and engaged community,"

Yes, indeed, this community is very engaged in nurturing its sports industry and welcomes competitors and fans with open arms.

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