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'Golden shovel' passed to Tampa Bay Super Bowl host committee for community greening program

One project includes continued restoration of a Florida coral reef, which unites the previous host committee in Miami to Tampa Bay.

TAMPA, Fla. — It's tradition – a symbolic "golden shovel" gets passed from one Super Bowl host committee to the next. 

This year, since both the 2020 and 2021 Super Bowls are in Florida, there was a "unique" handoff from Miami to the Tampa Bay area. A Force Blue diver who had been part of the shovel's transportation from Miami to Tampa emerged from the water with the shovel in hand to pass on to the Tampa Bay Super Bowl LV Host Committee.

In advance of the presentation, Tampa Parks and Recreation built sand dunes at Picnic Island as part of the host committee's greening project. Volunteers and Keep Tampa Bay Beautiful planted the sand dunes with 900 plants which included sea oats, dune sunflowers, railroad vine, muhly grass and cordgrass to help prevent erosion. The host committee says volunteers worked in small groups and followed guidelines to safeguard against COVID-19. 

“The NFL season is underway and so too are Super Bowl community greening projects,” said Claire Lessinger, Tampa Bay Super Bowl LV Host Committee vice president of events. “This is the first of numerous projects planned in the Tampa Bay area to create a positive legacy around the big game.” 

The host committee says other planning community greening projects include a mangrove restoration project at Picnic Island, a beautification project to create a garden for pollinators at Veterans Memorial Park, a tree planting at the Boys & Girls Club in Wimauma, a vegetable garden and community compost project at the the Keep Tampa Bay Beautiful Environmental Education Center at Reed Park and native plantings and cleanups at Lowry Park and at McKay Bay Nature Park. 

One project that unites the Miami and Tampa Bay Super Bowl host committees is the continued restoration of a Florida coral reef. In Miami, 100 corals were planted to restore a reef off Miami's coast "in honor of the NFL's 100th season and military veterans."

Under the direction of Force Blue, the reef restoration project continues for Super Bowl LV, becoming "100 Yards of Hope"  – a football field-sized coral restoration project that will be created using corals grown at the Florida Aquarium in Tampa and the University of Miami's Rosenstiel School. 

“We’ve had a tremendous number of partners join in the effort to ensure these impactful community projects are implemented even during these unprecedented times,” said Susan Groh, Associate Director of NFL Green. “Planting trees, creating greenspace and enhancing the natural environment is something the NFL has been doing around its tentpole events for over 15 years.” 

Super Bowl LV is scheduled to air right here on 10 Tampa Bay on Feb. 7, 2021.

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