Tampa community leaders have pitched the Super Bowl as a way to celebrate the area's people, attractions and tropical quality of life in front of a worldwide audience.
But a California-based polling company has found that the national exposure from the Super Bowl seldom translates into a meaningful boost in the image of the host community.
San Diego was the only community in the past six years to get any boost in image, largely attributed to Super Bowl commentators, who raved about the city on air, said John Nienstedt, president of Competitive Edge Research and Communication.
Nienstedt said he has not noticed any significant media buzz about Tampa as the community prepares to host today's big game at Raymond James Stadium.
"It all comes down to how much broadcasters chat up Tampa," he said.
Dick Beard, chairman of the Tampa Bay Super Bowl Host Committee, has said the game will generate $300 million in economic impact and bring 100,000 visitors to the area. Community boosters hope those who come for the game will return to vacation, work or even retire.
The research is not meant to gauge the economic impact of the game. Competitive Edge Research asked about 500 people around the nation their impressions of Tampa, about the upcoming halftime show with Bruce Springsteen and other questions.
The company found that 59 percent of those surveyed had no impression of Tampa; and that only 14 percent of people in the West had any impression. The good news for civic boosters is that those who knew about Tampa generally liked it; only 6 percent disliked it.
"Tampa's nice, but it's a below-the-radar town," Nienstedt said.
Houston and Jacksonville got little mention during the Super Bowls that came to their cities, and the polling found that the NFL's championship game didn't boost people's impressions of those communities.
Detroit didn't get a boost in image from hosting the 2006 Super Bowl, but more people said they might visit after the embattled city pulled off a successful game week, the poll found.
Poll respondents actually viewed Miami less favorably after the 2007 Super Bowl. The game was remembered as much for the rainy day as the win by the Indianapolis Colts.
"Miami was not as nice as people thought it should be," Nienstedt said.
His advice to cities thinking about hosting the game: Negotiate to get a commercial during the game to show off the community to viewers.
Bruce Springsteen actually has more to gain from his Super Bowl halftime performance.
"The focus will be on him for the entire 12 minutes," Nienstedt said. "He will be the attraction."
Competitive Edge Research will conduct another poll next week to make its final determination on the game's impact on Tampa's image.