A warm welcome in Tampa

Tampa? Gorgeous!

That’s the catch phrase the NFL.com staff uses when we touch down in a new location. From Super Bowl to the combine, through the NFL Draft and back to training camps, it serves as our rallying call that we’ve arrived at the next event.

I’ll say it again. Tampa? Gorgeous!

The sun sets over the Tampa International Airport on Saturday. (Ben Liebenberg / NFL.com)

The sun sets over the Tampa International Airport on Saturday. (Ben Liebenberg / NFL.com)

For those who attend a Super Bowl as a function of their day job, the work really starts a week out. Most who cover or work the event generally arrive a week ahead of time, as many did over the weekend. And, the first impression of a host city is often the lasting one … and Tampa is, as matter of fact, gorgeous. We’ve been greeted by weather in the high 60s/low 70s.

Thank you Tampa.

It’s Monday morning, and Tampa is stretching its proverbial legs before the game. Call it the calm before the storm. While Super Bowl XLIII will be played at Raymond James Stadium, much of what happens during the week takes place at other locations — the Tampa Bay Convention Center located downtown, and the AFC and NFC team hotels at secret locations outside the city limits. OK, OK, they’re not so secret. But team hotels are always located a decent drive from the host city as a buffer from the media frenzy. That’s another blog.

The Tampa Convention Center (TCC) will be the hub for much of what goes on during the week leading up to the game. Right now, it appears as though preparations and last-minute changes are going on simultaneously. If you don’t have a cell phone up to your ear or a clipboard in your arms, you may feel out of place. PR-types are getting press conference rooms ready. Kiosks are being set up. The red and blue shirts of the convention center staff and security people outnumber the media. For now. NFL.com’s Gil Brandt is shaking hands. All seems right in the world.

A quick tour through Radio Row shows the room is sparsely populated. That will change. SIRIUS Radio has poll position in the room, as Adam Schein and John Riggins are the first people you see when you enter. The rest of the talking heads who are already here are pontificating, and the heavy hitters — ESPN Radio, Sporting News Radio and FOX Radio — hold down the corners room.

Getting down to a little business, both the Cardinals and Steelers arrive later today, and we’ll be blogging from their opening press conferences. Stay tuned.

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